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Full text of "Literary studies and criticism: evaluations of the writers of the American Renaissance--with fresh approaches to transcendentalism, literary influences, New-England cultural patterns, and the creative experience"

The 

Thoreau Library 

of Walter Harding 



Digitized by the Internet Archive 

in 2013 



http://archive.org/details/literarystudiescOOsanb 




X 



LITERARY STUDIES AND 

CRITICISM 

EVALUATIONS OF THE WRITERS OF THE AMERICAN RENAISSANCE- --WITH FRESH 
APPROACHES TO TRANSCENDENTALISM, LITERARY INFLUENCES, 
NEW-ENGLAND CULTURAL PATTERNS, AND THE 
CREATIVE EXPERIENCE 



FRANKLIN BENJAMIN SANBORN 



Edited by 
KENNETH WALTER CAMERON 




HARTFORD 
TRANSCENDENTAL BOOKS BOX A, STATION A - 06106 



COPYRIGHT 1980 BY 
KENNETH WALTER CAMERON 



PREFACE 

This volume preserves a considerable body of Sanborn's 
literary work that should delight those specializing in the 
American Renaissance or those who have lamented the criti- 
cal imperceptiveness manifested toward that period by the 
"gilded age" that followed. Sanborn is here seen as the re- 
porter and literary evaluator of his times— and especially 
as enunciator of values in the poetry of Emerson, Whitman, 
Thoreau and Dickinson (to name only a few) during a period 
somewhat astigmatic. 

This collection, however, includes only a small portion of 
his literary papers, most of which are scattered throughout 
the other volumes of this series, which the careful student 
will not ignore: (1) Transcendental Youth and Age , (2) Table 
Talk , (3) John Brown and the Transcendentalists , (4) Tran- 
scendental Writers and Heroes , (5 ) Transcendental and Lit - 
erary New England and (6) Lectures on Literature and Phi - 
losophy . 

Sanborn*s principal outlet for his critical observations 
was the newspaper, which, in his day, addressed a public 
deeply interested in literature and desirous of reading evalu- 
ations of it . Because the Springfield Republican , the Boston 
Evening Transcript, the Boston Commonwealth and the Bos - 
ton Daily Advertiser led the country in providing such a serv- 
ice, the scholarly investigator of nineteenth -century Ameri- 
can criticism will not delay adventuring into their yellowing 
newsprint. In the volumes listed above I have merely sam- 
pled vast resources and, I hope, demonstrated their impor- 
tance . 

I have been obligated for help in the preparation of this 
volume to the staffs of the Springfield Public Library and 
the Boston Public Library — especially to their microtext 
divisions --which have offered memorable hospitality and 
labored to supply me with acceptable blow-ups from film- 
strips. In handling the result, my typist, Mrs. Ruth A. 
Dorey of South Windsor, Connecticut, as in other volumes, 
has combined literacy, dedication and stenographic skill to 
make the faded records of a century ago speak eloquently to 
us today. She deserves special thanks. 

K. W. C. 

June 1, 1980. 



CONTENTS IN CHRONOLOGICAL ORDER 

CHARLES ADAMS FAULKNER KILLED ON THE FITCHBURG RAILROAD (Mar. 19, 1861) 8 

A REVIEW OF HAWTHORNE'S OUR OLD HOME (Sept. 25, 1863) 278 

A REVIEW OF THOREAU'S EXCURSIONS (Oct. 23, 1863) 279 

A REVIEW OF THE LIFE OF THEODORE PARKER (Feb. 12, 1864) 281 

NATHANIEL HAWTHORNE-— AN OBITUARY (May 27, 1864) 282 

THE GREATNESS OF THOREAU'S MAINE WOODS (June 10, 1864) 284 

A TRIBUTE TO CARLYLE'S HISTORY OF FRIEDRICH THE SECOND (July 29, 1864) 284 

THE TRANSCENDENTALISTS AND THEIR CRITICS (Oct. 8, 1864) 286 

EMERSON'S LECTURES ON AMERICAN LIFE Pec. 10, 1864) 288 

ON PARTON'S LIFE AND TIMES OF BENJAMIN FRANKLIN (Dec. 24, 1864) 289 

REMARKS ON THOREAU'S CAPE COD (Mar. 25, 1865) 290 

AN APPRAISAL OF EMERSON'S PROSE AND POETRY (Apr. 15, 1865) 292 

THOREAU'S LETTERS AND THOMAS CHOLMONDELEY (Aug. 12, 1865) 294 

THE GRAND MONADNOC— MEMORIES OF EMERSON AND THOREAU (July 28, 1866) 295 

THOUGHTS ON THOREAU'S A YANKEE IN CANADA (Sept. 29, 1866) 297 

EMERSON'S LATEST POEMS— MAY-DAY AND OTHER PIECES (May 11, 1867) 298 

AUTUMN DAYS AND CONCORD LIFE (Sept. 10, 1868) 299 

LETTER FROM CONCORD— ITINERARY FOR THE CULTIVATED VISITOR (Sept. 17, 1868) 300 

A GLANCE AT LOWELL AS LITERATURE (Nov. 21, 1868) 301 

THE GENEJS OF HAWTHORNE AS SEEN IN HIS NOTE-BOOKS (Dec. 12, 1868) 302 

MR. EMERSON'S BOSTON READINGS (Mar. 20, 1869) 303 

LONGFELLOW'S DANTE (Oct. 31, 1870) 304 

BRET HARTE'S POEMS (Dec. 26, 1870) 305 

STRENGTHS AND LIMITATIONS OF LOWELL AS A CRITIC (Jan. 31, 1871) 306 

WALT WHITMAN RECOGNIZED (Sept. 4, 1871) 306 

CONCORD— AN OLD TOWN RENEWING ITS YOUTH (Oct. 16, 1871) 309 

A COLLOQUIAL POEM: MR. CHANNING'S "WANDERER" (Oct. 23, 1871) 310 

PLATO IN AMERICA: JOWETT'S NEW TRANSLATION (Nov. 6, 1871) 312 

BRONSON ALCOTT'S CONCORD DAYS — AN AUTUMNAL BOOK (Sept. 23, 1872) 313 

DR. HOLMES'S CONFESSIONS: THE POET AT THE BREAKFAST TABLE (Oct. 23, 1872) 315 



POE AND THE CONCORD WRITERS EM UNDERWOOD'S HANDBOOK (Dec. 5, 1872) 316 

HONORS PAID TO EMERSON ON HIS RETURN HOME (May 27, 1873) 318 

MISS ALCOTT'S NEW NOVEL— ITS CHARACTERS AND CHARACTERISTICS (June 12, 1873) 318 

JULIAN HAWTHORNE AS A NOVELIST: HIS BRESSANT A STRANGE STORY (June 16, 1873) 320 

ALCOTT AND WOLCOTT: STORY OF A CONNECTICUT TOWNSHIP (Sept. 24, 1873) 321 

CONCORD AND ITS INSTITUTIONS (Oct. 1 , 1873) 325 

CHANNEL'S THOREAU PORTRAYED BY HIS NEAREST FRIEND (Oct. 20, 1873) 327 

A BOSTON SOCRATES— -BRONSON ALCOTT (Mar. 12, 1874) 330 

NEW POEMS BY WHITTIER AND HOLMES (Oct. 27, 1874) 332 

EMERSON'S PARNASSUS — A REVIEW (Dec. 26, 1874) 332 

WHITMAN AT HOME AND ABROAD— INTERNATIONAL CONSIDERATIONS (Jan. 18, 1875) 334 

ALCOTT'S RETURN TO CONCORD— REPORT ON HIS WESTERN TOUR (Oct. 4, 1875) 335 

A POET'S COLLECTION: WHITTIER'S SONGS OF THREE CENTURIES (Dec. 16, 1875) 338 

WALT WHITMAN'S FOOLISH FRIENDS (Mar. 31 , 1876) 339 

A VISIT TO WALT WHITMAN, THE GOOD GRAY POET (Apr. 13, 1876) 339 

HAWTHORNE AND GEORGE SAND COMPARED (June 10, 1876) 343 

HAWTHORNE'S EARLY STYLE IN FANSHAWE — THE BIOGRAPHICAL RECORD (June 19, 1876) 344 

NEW ENGLAND TRANSCENDENTALISM AND FROTHEVGHAM'S BOOK (June 23 , 1 876) 346 

EMERSON'S THOUGHT AND STYLE FORTY YEARS LATER (1836-1876) (June 27, 1876) 347 

A BERKSHIRE WILD-WOOD BARD— GEORGE FINNY AND THOREAU Quly 22, 1876) 349 

WORDSWORTH AND THE AMERICAN TRANSCENDENTAL POETS (Sept. 1 , 1876) 349 

LOWELL'S QUALITY AND RANK (Sept. 15, 1876) 350 

EMERSON'S POETRY AND JOHN MILTON (Nov. 10, 1876) 352 

SAMUEL BOWLES: A PERSONAL TRIBUTE flan. 17, 1878) 8 

EMERSON'S PHILOSOPHY FOR THE NATION (Mar. 4, 1878) 9 

EDWARD YOUNG AND HIS NIGHT THOUGHTS (May 31 , 1879) 10 

BRONSON ALCOTT'S TABLETS (Nov. 17, 1879) 12 

THE HOLMES BREAKFAST (Dec. 3, 1879) 12 

POETRY AND WISDOM: BAYARD TAYLOR, HOLMES AND ALCOTT (Dec. 4, 1879) 13 

BARTOL, EMERSON AND TRANSCENDENTALISM (Apr. 17, 1880) 15 

A VISIT TO RURAL CONNECTICUT WITH BRONSON ALCOTT (Sept. 16, 1880) 17 

THE CHESHIRE CENTENNIAL AND BRONSON ALCOTT (Oct. 14, 1880) 18 



AMERICAN WOMEN IN LITERATURE: LYDIA CHILD AND LOUISA ALCOTT (Oct. 23, 1880) 20 

ART, HISTORY AND EDNAH CHENEY (Jan. 10, 1881) 22 

DARWIN AND THOREAU (Feb. 23, 1881) 24 

THE CONTINUING TRANSCENDENTAL ERA; ALCOTT AND CHENEY (June 13, 1881) 26 

JONES VERY AND AMERICAN POETRY IN GENERAL (July 18, 1881) 28 

AMERICAN LITERATURE AND LIFE (Aug. 11, 1881) 354 

EMERSON AND DISRAELI COMPARED (Sept. 19, 1881) 29 

WALT WHITMAN, A KOSMOS (Nov. 13, 1881)....... 31 

A CRITIQUE ON LONGFELLOW (Mar. 27, 1882) 31 

THE DEATH AND BURIAL OF EMERSON (May 2, 1882) 32 

NEWMAN AND THE TRANSCENDENTALISTS (June 22, 1882) 34 

EDWARD EMERSON— MAN AS DOCTOR (July 10, 1882) 35 

HERMANN GRIMM'S VIEW OF EMERSON (Aug. 6, 1882) 36 

NEW ENGLAND THEOLOGY— EMERSON, PARKER AND TRANSCENDENTALISM (Oct. 16, 1882) 38 

MR. ALCOTT'S CONDITION (Nov. 23, 1882) 40 

HAWTHORNE'S EARLY ROMANCES (Jan. 15, 1883).. 40 

LORD LYTTON ON EMERSON'S POETRY AND THE CRITICS (Feb. 26, 1883) 42 

EMERSON IN REVIEW (Dec. 3, 1883) 43 

EMERSON AND GENRJS (Oct. 9, 1884) 45 

WHO WROTE THE JOHN BROWN SONG? (May 19, 1885) 221 

POETRY AND HUMOR OF ANTI-SLAVERY DAYS (Oct. 5, 1885) 355 

HARRIET TUBMAN, THE BLACK MOSES (Nov. 2, 1886) 48 

PROF. RICHARDSON ON EMERSON, THOREAU AND AMERICAN LITERATURE (Jan. 10j 1887) 49 

THE LATE DR. ESTES HOWE OF CAMBRIDGE Can. 16, 1887) 50 

LONGFELLOW AND OTHERS— AMERICAN BIOGRAPHY (May 16, 1887) 51 

WILLIAM DEAN HOWELLS AND THE MODERN NOVEL (Sept. 5, 1887) 53 

CULTURED CONCORD— ALCOTT, BANCROFT AND TRANSCENDENTALISM (Dec. 12, 1887) 54 

TO WILMOT L. WARREN— THE TRIBUTE OF A FRIEND AND ASSOCIATE (Dec. 25, 1887) 56 

THE POEMS OF DAVID WASSON (Dec. 27, 1887) 356 

THE LATE GEORGE WALKER (Jan. 17, 1888) 57 

SWINBURNE AND WHITMAN (Mar. 3, 1888) 58 

LOUISA MAY ALCOTT'S DEATH (Mar. 7, 1888) 60 



THE ALCOTTS RECONSIDERED— -LOWELL'S LIMITATIONS (Mar. 12, 1888) 61 

A CRITICAL EVALUATION OF MATTHEW ARNOLD ON AMERICA (June 18, 1888) 63 

BRONSON ALCOTT AND DR. NATHAN ALLEN-— A CONTRAST (June 2 5, 1888) 65 

ADIN THAYER: THE TRIBUTE OF AN OLD FRIEND (Aug. 6, 1888) 67 

JOTTINGS FROM CONCORD— WINTER ASPECT OF A FAMOUS TOWN (Dec. 4, 1888) 68 

EMERSON, HAWTHORNE AND DELIA BACON'S HYPOTHESIS (Dec. 17, 1888) 70 

THE LATE DR. NATHAN ALLEN Qan. 2, 1889) 72 

WHITTIER, WHITMAN AND EMMA LAZARUS AS AMERICAN POETS (Jan. 7, 1889) 73 

THOMAS PARKER SANBORN— A FATHER'S TRIBUTE (Mar. 4, 1889) 357 

IN MEMORIAM: THOMAS PARKER SANBORN By "M" [?Mother] (Mar. 4, 1889) 359 

THE POETRY OF THEODORE PARKER (Mar. 7, 1889) 359 

LOUISA MAY ALCOTT AS A NOVELIST (Mar. 21 , 1889) 75 

THE MIRACLE OF LAURA BRIDGMAN (May 25, 1889) 76 

RECOGNITION FOR MRS. JULIA WARD HOWE (May 30, 1889) 76 

CARLYLE AND EMERSON ONCE MORE (May 25, 1889) 77 

THE USES OF POETRY— -ARNOLD, EMERSON AND SCOTT (July 1, 1889) 79 

BURROUGHS, WHITMAN, THOREAU AND THE OUT-OF-DOORS (July 13, 1889) 81 

WASSON, RELIGION AND THE CONCORD OF EMERSON'S FATHER (July 20, 1889) 83 

THE CONCORD SCHOOL— CORRECTIONS AND A DEFENSE (July 23, 1889) 85 

JANE AUSTEN AND LOUISA MAY ALCOTT (Nov. 11 , 1889) 86 

MRS. STOWE'S LIFE OF HERSELF (Feb. 20, 1890) 87 

CONWAY ON HAWTHORNE AND HIS TIMES (Aug. 11, 1890) 360 

RECENT BOOKS ABOUT EMERSON AND THOREAU (Aug. 25, 1890) 88 

HENRY ADAMS ON ADAMS AND JEFFERSON (Oct. 13, 1890) 90 

DOROTHEA DIX, PHILANTHROPIST (Oct. 21, 1890) 92 

THE NEW ENGLAND OF LOWELL'S POEMS (Oct. 27, 1890) 362 

WALT WHITMAN AND INGERSOL (Oct. 31, 1890) 93 

LOWELL AND EMILY DICKINSON COMPARED (Dec. 23, 1890) 94 

JAMES REDPATH— A TRIBUTE (Feb. 11, 1891) 95 

REFLECTIONS ON THE CONCORD SCHOOL (May 6, 1891) 95 

RANDOM NOTES ON THOREAU (May 8, 1891) 96 

THE CASE OF THE CARLYLES AGAIN (Aug. 5, 1891) 97 



LOWELL— POET, CRITIC, REFORMER (Aug. 14, 1891) 98 

EMILY DICKINSON AND THE ENGLISH CRITICS (Oct. 26, 1891) 99 

BRET HARTE, FRENEAU AND THE POETIC ELEMENT IN FICTION (Feb. 10, 1892) 100 

CARLYLE'S CRITICISM OF EMERSON— HAWTHORNE ON THE CIVIL WAR (Feb. 27, 1892) 102 

COL. HIGGINSON'S IDEAS ON AMERICA AND AMERICANS (Mar. 11, 1892) 103 

THOREAU THE WALKER (Mar. 15, 1892) 103 

C LOUGH, CHOLMONDELEY AND IDEALISM DM ENGLAND AND AMERICA (Mar. 23, 1892) 104 

WALT WHITMAN, 'THE ONLY ONE" (Mar. 28, 1892) 105 

THE GENRJS AND SIGNIFICANCE OF WALT WHITMAN (Mar. 28, 1892) 108 

TRANSCENDENTALISM: PARKER, EMERSON AND CARLYLE (Apr. 2, 1892) 109 

THE WORLDS OF WALT WHITMAN AND EDMUND WALLER (Apr. 13, 1892) Ill 

MEMORY AND IMAGINATION IN TRAINING HELEN KELLER (Apr. 16, 1892) 113 

THOREAU AND THE POET-NATURALISTS OF SALEM (Apr. 29, 1892) 114 

A FURTHER TRIBUTE TO DR. PLINY EARLE (May 18, 1892) 114 

SOME MEMORIES OF EMERSON (June 8, 1892)......... 115 

CONWAY'S LIFE OF THOMAS PAINE (July 31, 1892) 116 

ANTHONY RUPPAUNER, HARVARD CLASS OF 1855 0uly31, 1892) 117 

MISS AUSTEN'S EMMA AND MANSFIELD PARK (Aug. 14, 1892) 117 

PLATO AND EMERSON AGAINST MATERIALISM (Aug. 23, 1892) .... 118 

ALCOTT AND SOCRATES— A COMPARISON (Aug. 29, 1892)... 119 

AS THE TRANSCENDENTAL AGE CLOSES: PARSONS AND GEORGE CURTIS (Sept. 9, 1892) ........ 119 

ACCUMULATING TRIBUTES TO THOREAU AND ALCOTT (Sept. 14, 1892) 121 

THE STORY OF THREE VISITORS TO EMERSON AND ALCOTT (Sept. 15, 1892) 122 

THOMAS PAINE'S AUTUMNAL DAYS (Sept. 17, 1892) 123 

SAMUEL LONGFELLOW, EMERSON AND THEODORE PARKER (Oct. 7, 1892) 125 

TENNYSON AND EMERSON (Oct. 7, 1892) 126 

EMERSON, THOREAU AND CHANNING ON MONADNOC (Oct. 13, 1892) 127 

ON PLYMOUTH, BROOK FARM AND SOCIALISTIC COMMUNITIES (Oct. 19, 1892) 128 

RECOLLECTIONS OF ALCOTT AND CHOLMONDELEY (Nov. 18, 1892) 129 

LOUISA ALCOTT'S FAME IN SWITZERLAND (Nov. 29, 1892) 130 

THE TRANSCENDENTALISTS AND THE STARS (Dec. 2, 1892) 131 

A NEW TRANSCENDENTALISM IN FRANCE (Jan. 29, 1893) 132 



A TRIBUTE TO GEORGE WILLIAM CURTIS AT ASHFIELD (Aug. 24, 1893) 132 

SUMMER SCHOOLS AND SERIOUS INSTRUCTION (Aug. 25, 1894) 133 

THE LATE GRINDALL REYNOLDS (Oct. 1, 1894) 134 

FURTHER THOUGHTS CONCERNING HOLMES (Oct. 9, 1894) 135 

PERSONAL MEMOIRS— BROOK FARM AND JOHN BROWN (Nov. 29, 1894) 136 

THOUGHTS ON WHITTIER (Dec. 13, 1894) 137 

SAMUEL STAPLES, THE CONCORD SHERIFF (Apr. 18, 1895) 138 

CAROLINE FOX ON EMERSON AND ALCOTT (Sept. 24, 1895) 138 

GENERAL FRANK BARLOW Can. l6> 1896) # 140 

DR. WILLIAM HENRY FURNESS (Feb. 4, 1896) 140 

EMERSON AND THOREAU IN AN AGE OF BIOGRAPHIES (May 5, 1896) 141 

LITERARY LOSSES BY FIRES IN CONCORD, PLYMOUTH AND NAHANT (May 21, 1896) 142 

GEORGE BARTLETT AND THE SOCIAL LIFE OF CONCORD (June 25, 1896). 143 

ROSE HAWTHORNE LATHROP (Sept. 15, 1896) 143 

JOHN JAY CHAPMAN'S PRESUPPOSITIONS CONCERNING EMERSON Pec . 29, 1896) 144 

EMERSON AND WHITMAN SAT UPON (Jan. 26, 1897) 144 

DONALDSON ON WHITMAN— WHITMAN COMPARED WITH RABELAIS (Feb. 16, 1897) 146 

THE LIMITATIONS OF BIOGRAPHIES OF HAWTHORNE (May 4, 1897) 148 

RECENT EVALUATIONS OF THE CONCORD AUTHORS (May 11 , 1897) 148 

CONCORD IN 1867— THOREAU AND HIS BOOKS (July 13, 1897) 151 

THE LATE THEODORE LYMAN (Sept. 11, 1897) 152 

HAWTHORNE'S HAUNTS IN MAINE (Oct. 26, 1897) 152 

EMERSON AND JOHN STERLING (Nov. 2, 1897) 154 

TENNYSON AND EMERSON (Nov. 23, 1897) 155 

WALT WHITMAN NOW SUMMED UP Can. 18, 1898) 156 

THE EMERSONIAN PUZZLE AND THE CRITICISM OF CONTRADICTION (July 19, 1898) 158 

WALT WHITMAN IN RETROSPECT (Aug. 16, 1898) 159 

BROOK FARM— CONCORD'S ARCADIA (Sept. 6, 1898) 161 

FRANKLIN AND HIS COUNTRYMEN (Dec. 27, 1898) 163 

EMERSON AMONG HIS FRIENDS (Nov. 14, 1899) 164 

JEFFERSON AND GOETHE— EMERSON AND HIS CONTEMPORARIES (Nov. 21, 1899) 167 

BRONSON ALCOTT, PROPHET FROM CONNECTICUT (Nov. 29, 1899) 169 



BRONSON ALCOTT AND JOHN HERAUD flan. 9, 1900) 170 

ASCETICS OLD AND NEW: HECKER, ALCOTT AND FRUITLANDS (Apr. 17, 1900) 172 

BROOK FARM AND AFTERWARD (Apr. 24, 1900) 174 

WAS UNCLE TOM'S CABIN A VICIOUS BOOK? (Jan. 16, 1901) 177 

SHAKESPEARE AND BRUNO— ELIZABETH'S TRANSCENDENTAL CLUB (May 21, 1901) 178 

RECOLLECTIONS OF SAMUEL W. ROWSE (May 30, 1901) 180 

THE BIRTHPLACE OF WHITTLER (June 18, 1901) 180 

GILBERT WHITE AND HENRY THOREAU (July 30, 1901) 182 

THE SCHOLAR AS MAN OF THE WORLD: DR. HOWE'S TWO COLLEGES (Nov. 13, 1901) 183 

THE LIFE OF WILLIAM ELLERY CHANNING (Dec. 23, 1901) 187 

THE EARLY POETRY OF ELLERY CHANNING Qan. 28, 1902) 190 

BYRON AND WHITMAN— THE QUESTION OF MORALITY (Apr. 2, 1902) ..... 191 

THOREAU, MUSIC AND TENNYSON (Apr. 22, 1902) 194 

EMERSON AS A PHILOSOPHER: A REALIST, NO SYSTEMIST (Aug. 12, 1902) 195 

EMERSON AND HERMAN GRIMM (Apr. 7, 1903) 198 

EMERSON AND ELLERY CHANNING (May 5, 1903) 199 

REMINISCENCES OF EMERSON AND THEODORE PARKER (May 24, 1903) 201 

EMERSON AND CONCORD TOWN— THE SCHOOL OF 1879 (July 15, 1903) 203 

THE LOVE LETTERS OF MARGARET FULLER (Sept. 15, 1903) 206 

REMARKS ON EMERSON AT THE CHAPEL OF UNITY CHURCH (Oct. 28, 1903) 208 

JONES VERY IN GERMANY— ABNER KNEELAND AND MYSTICISM (Mar. 15, 1904) 208 

THE FRIENDSHIPS OF HAWTHORNE (July 7, 1904) 210 

EMERSON'S UNDELIVERED FESTIVAL SPEECH ON SHAKESPEARE (Sept. 6, 1904) 220 

REFLECTIONS ON MONCURE D. CONWAY'S AUTOBIOGRAPHY (Nov. 1, 1904) 222 

EMERSON AT HOME IN CONCORD— MRS. HARDING DAVIS'S GOSSIP (May 24, 1905) 224 

EMERSON AND PLATO (Feb. 8, 1906) 226 

THE PHILOSOPHY OF EMERSON AND THOREAU (Apr. 26, 1906) 226 

THE RELIGION OF THOREAU— A GREENACRE LECTURE (Aug. 9, 1906) 227 

EMERSON AND THE IMPOSSIBLE BACONIAN THEORY OF SHAKESPEARE (Apr . 30, 1907) 229 

SHAKESPEARE, DELIA BACON AND EMERSON (June 11, 1907) 232 

TREADWELL THE POET, EDWIN WHITE AND A NEGLECTED WHITTLER POEM Pec . 31 , 1907) 234 

THREE CONCORD AUTHORS: THOREAU, ALCOTT AND HAWTHORNE (Dec. 15, 1908) 236 



THE ART OF FICTION AND ITS DECAY (June 1, 1909) 238 

THOUGHTS ON POE AND RABELAIS (June 8, 1909) 240 

EMERSON AND HIS CRITICS (Nov. 30, 1909) 242 

EMERSON'S EARLY JOURNALS AND LETTERS: A TALK (Feb. 2, 1910) 244 

RECOLLECTIONS OF JULIA WARD HOWE (Oct. 17, 1910) 248 

REFLECTIONS ON THOMAS WENTWORTH HIGGINSON (May 11, 1911) 249 

MARGARET FULLER IN HER SECOND CENTURY (May 23, 1911) 250 

AMOS BRONSON ALCOTT AND PLOTINUS (Sept. 26, 1911) 251 

THE MEDITATIONS OF EMERSON IN HIS JOURNALS (Dec. 10, 1912) 252 

TRUE POETS AND MINOR POETS— THOREAU AND HAWTHORNE (Jan. 13, 1914) 255 

TWO EMERSON FAVORITES—PASCAL AND THOREAU (Mar. 17, 1914) 256 

THE APPLE SEASON— EMERSON, THOREAU, SANBORN AND THE APPLE (May 12, 1914) 258 

EMERSON AS SEEN BY THE FRENCH AND BY THE JAMES FAMILY (June 2, 1914) 260 

HISTORICAL ROMANCES— SCOPE, CHARACTERS AND SUBJECTS (June 16, 1914) 261 

THE PSALMS IN LITERATURE— MARY SIDNEY (Dec. 1, 1914) 263 

MEMORIES OF WILLIAM COWPER AND ELLERY CHANNEMG (Feb. 9, 1915) 265 

THOREAU'S ANCESTORS AT KEENE, NEW HAMPSHIRE (June 8, 1915) 267 

THE NATURE AND USES OF POESY— WHITMAN, FROST, THE NEW SCHOOL (Nov. 9, 1915). 269 

NOVELS PROBABLE AND IMPROBABLE— JOSEPH LINCOLN AND CAPE COD (Feb. 1 , 1916) 271 

THOREAU AND THE POETRY OF MOUNTAINS (Feb. 22, 1916) 272 

THE SPECTRAL POPULATION OF POE'S CRITICAL HADES (Oct. 24, 1916) 275 

SOURCES.... / > ' 365 




(1) 

CHARLES ADAMS FAULKNER: A STUDENT KILLED ON 
THE FITCHBURG RAILROAD 

On Saturday afternoon, about 5 o'clock, a young student 
in Harvard College, named Charles A. Faulkner, a son of 
Col. Samuel Faulkner of South Acton, was run over by a 
locomotive at Porter's station, North Cambridge, and in- 
jured so that he died in half an hour. He was in the habit 
every Saturday afternoon of going to the station with a va- 
lise to be sent to his home, and also to receive a package 
from there. On this occasion he had made the exchange, 
had written a letter to his father, and was crossing the 
track with a carpet-bag of clean clothes, when he was 
struck by the locomotive "Vermont," which had been up 
the brick yard crossing, and was returning backwards at 
the rate of 20 miles an hour. Both legs were cut off, his 
head was injured, and his body so badly crushed, that his 
surviving for a moment seems remarkable . He was kept 
under the influence of ether while alive . His remains 
were conveyed to his home on an extra train of cars by 
the officers of the road and some of his brother students. 

At a meeting of the Freshman class of Harvard Col- 
lege, held at 10 A.M. yesterday, the following preamble 
and resolutions were unanimously adopted: 

Whereas, It has pleased the Almighty to remove from 
among us Charles Adams Faulkner, one of our most high- 
ly esteemed class-mates, under circumstances peculiarly 
distressing, 

Resolved, That we regard his death as the result of an 
accident which deprives our class of one of its brightest 
ornaments, his class-mates of a pleasant and congenial 
companion, and this University of one who bade fair to 
share its highest honors. 

Resolved, That we tender to the afflicted family and 
friends our heartfelt sympathy, and trust they will find 
consolation in the assurance that his course among us has 
been marked by the purest morality, and a reputation un- 
sullied by one mean or dishonorable action. 

Resolved, That we wear the usual badge of respect for 
thirty days . 

Resolved, That a copy of these resolutions be sent to 
the family of the deceased. 



(2) 
SAMUEL BOWLES: A PERSONAL TRIBUTE 

There have been many definitions of Genius, perhaps 
none better than that recent one of Emerson, who calls it 
"a sensibility to all the impressions of the outer world; a 
sensibility so equal that it receives accurately all impres- 
sions, and can truly report them, without excess or loss, 
as it received." It was in this sense that Mr. Bowles was 
said, very justly, to have a genius for journalism. No 
weaker word will describe his power, which has so long 
been felt, both in its immediate stroke and its indirect re- 
sult. His active career from 1844 to the present time cov- 
ers all that is really valuable and distinctive in American 
journalism; and in the latter half of this period no name 
has been more distinguished, no influence more potent, 
than his own. He was endowed with that intuitive sagacity 



which leads a man, here and there, to meet the coming 
time and its needs long before the many, or even the en- 
lightened few, see clearly what those needs are . This 
led him many years ago to form that theory of independ- 
ent journalism upon which he had consistently acted for a 
long time before the mass of editors and readers even be- 
gan to understand what independence really implies in a 
journalist. If he had not found the good word "journalism" 
to describe his profession, he would have invented it; as, 
indeed, he was the first American editor to use it con- 
stantly and clearly in its large sense, as we now receive 
it. To his forecasting spirit the word had a fascinating 
significance, even before he discerned fully what mean- 
ings were involved in it. He found the New England news- 
paper a petty, local affair, sometimes sharp and forcible, 
but narrow- -generally both narrow and dull. He devoted 
the whole active period of his laborious life, the whole 
scope of his great powers, to this insignificant organism, 
and he leaves it to-day master of the field—with all the 
other social forces of New England tributary to its power, 
or hastening to seek its alliance. Under his hands it found 
development, resources, integrity, public spirit--it came 
to the front, and remained there. And then the men who 
had never conceived it possible that a newspaper, any 
more than an egg, could be made to stand in its own place, 
without something to lean against, top and bottom, took 
the hint, set their own newspapers on end, like the egg of 
Columbus, and tried hard to forget who had taught them 
the simple lesson. 

Let us not claim too much for our friend, who for him- 
self claimed nothing, except some knowledge of his own 
business and of his own people. He was aided in this work 
of a lifetime, as all public benefactors are, by the drift 
and desire of his age. Where that pointed he followed, 
and he was prudent not to go forward too fast. High as 
his courage was, and never loftier than when the situation 
was most critical, he taught his ardent wishes to wait un- 
til the occasion was beginning to ripen. Sometimes, in 
his earlier editorial course, he held back when he might 
well have gone forward . He was not swift to see the whole 
meaning of the struggle against slavery, and was longer in 
breaking away from the old whig party than were many men 
who afterward censured him for too early abandoning the 
republican party, of which, in Massachusetts, he was one 
of the founders . By tradition and youthful associations his 
judgment may have been a little beguiled in 1849-50, but 
no such sentimental attachment concealed from him the 
needs of the country twenty years later. He was quick 
and profound in detecting the evils that lurked under spe- 
cious names in our national politics after the great re- 
sults of the civil war were attained; and few men have 
done more than he to unmask and to remove them . In 
this work, which much occupied his later years, he came 
forth under a new aspect, as a reformer, aiming earnest- 
ly at moral regeneration, in political and social life. He 
had passed for a conservative when reformers were the 
fashion; now he was seen to be laboring in a thankless 
and irksome task of reform, at an age when most re- 
formers have ripened into acquiescence in whatever state 
of things they find existing. It was this peculiarity of Mr. 
Bowles's career that many persons found it hardest to 
comprehend- -this inverted radicalism, this autumnal 
enthusiasm for moral ideas, which moved him all the 



more because he saw others strangely indifferent to them . 
Out of this state of mind in him and in them grew much 
of the political animosity and personal estrangement that 
has embittered portions of his later years. Men who had 
thought themselves more observant of moral distinctions 
than they fancied the editor of a daily newspaper had a right 
to be, were shocked to find the sharpest tests of honor and 
rectitude applied to their own conduct. Sometimes they 
shrank back even from the Decalogue when they saw it em- 
bodied in a leading article, and they showed themselves 
particularly aggrieved by the Sermon on the Mount. 

To those who knew Mr. Bowles intimately, on the other 
hand, nothing was more interesting, nothing more attrac- 
tive than this earnestness of his mature years. It was the 
ripening of his nature, and grew spontaneously out of his 
social affections and his conception of what an American 
citizen owed to his country, to his countrymen, and to 
himself. He saw his children growing up to take their 
places in a community and a nation which was drifting 
away from the old anchorage, and he gravely distrusted 
the steersman and the crew. In a nobler sense than Lord 
Bacon intended he had "given hostages to Fortune" and was 
bound to see that he left his country, his state and his city 
in no worse condition than he found them . To change the 
course of events became his desire, as it never had been 
in his younger life. He perceived with delight, but also 
with a deep sense of responsibility, that the newspaper he 
had created was a force potent to withstand some of the 
influences he saw so mischievously active all about him. 
Watching his opportunity, he used this magical weapon now 
and again on the side of honesty in trade, decency in pri- 
vate morals, honor in professional service, purity, jus- 
tice and personal unselfishness in public affairs. The oc- 
casions were often conspicuous, some of the objects of his 
attack were not less so, and it mattered not to him whether 
he found them among his friends or his foes. When neces- 
sary, he gave fair warning to former allies that they must 
expect no immunity for public faults because of their pri- 
vate friendship; but those on whom the censure fell some- 
times failed to comprehend what this meant till they saw 
themselves and their sins gazetted. Gradually the whole 
wide circle of his acquaintance, in all parts of the world, 
came to understand that the only way to avoid punishment 
was to repent and sin no more, or at least to set their 
faces in the right direction. Many good people once 
thought, and perhaps a few still imagine that this sever- 
ity of his was often uncalled for, sometimes wanton and 
capricious; that he blamed without due cause, and praised 
indiscriminately by way of contrast. No doubt there were 
instances of this, but in the main the record of history, 
and too often the criminal docket of the courts or of pub- 
lic opinion, confirmed his verdict and added heavier con- 
demnation . 

My own acquaintance with Mr. Bowles dates back to the 
earlier and includes the later of the two periods thus im- 
perfectly indicated. There was no sudden change from 
one to the other, though the outbreak of the civil war may 
serve to mark the commencement of the later period, and 
the second year of Grant's administration the distinct per- 
ception in his own mind of his proper attitude toward par- 
ties and the whole people. He never acquired that enthu- 
siastic devotion to an abstract principle, which carried 
Napoleon's "fanatics of 1792" through their revolutionary 



campaigns, and inspired the American abolitionists in 
their long warfare with slavery. Nor, on the other hand, 
did he ever fall into the ranks of those pragmatic incapa- 
bles who waste their own time and ours in answering po- 
litical questions that nobody has asked, and inventing ma- 
chinery that can never be made to go, much less turn a 
driving-wheel. He was the most practical of Americans, 
who in politics are the most practical people in the world. 
His political sagacity in its own sphere was matchless and 
seldom at fault; the occasion, however, did not always 
come up to the mark he had set, because duller people 
than he were always in the majority. 

These were traits of his public character. Of his per- 
sonal virtues and attractions, who can now trust himself 
to speak? His own affections were both warm and broad, 
and they found a response wherever he was known, even 
by casual acquaintance. The glance of his eye, the cor- 
dial pressure of his hand, the winning or challenging tone 
of his voice, have often aroused sentiments as lasting as 
their occasion was transitory. His prudence never passed 
into selfishness or settled into coldness. His theory of 
journalism was impersonal, but no man was ever more 
distinctly and warmly a person dealing directly with other 
persons. That which we call "magnetism," because we 
have no better name for it, radiated from his presence 
and was transmitted through his pen. With the echoes of 
his fame, as they resound to-day throughout the land, the 
voices of affection are everywhere mingled, and these 
confer the more enviable renown. 



(3) 
EMERSON'S PHILOSOPHY FOR THE NATION 

No doubt the chief literary event of the winter in Bos- 
ton has been the lecture of Mr. Emerson at the Old South 
last week. It has been very imperfectly reported in the 
newspapers, but will soon be published in full with his 
own revision. In form it is new; in spirit, however, it 
is the same noble and cheerful gospel he has been preach- 
ing these forty years and more- -calling the people of 
America to a higher courage and a less frivolous activity. 
In 1841, when he lectured to the Mechanics' Apprentices' 
Library association, at the Masonic Temple in Tremont 
street (now the United States court-house), Mr. Emerson 
said: "The Americans have many virtues, but they have 
not Faith and Hope . I know no two words whose meaning 
is more lost sight of. We use these words as if they were 
as obsolete as Selah and Amen. And yet they have the 
broadest meaning and the most cogent application to Bos- 
ton in 1841 . The Americans have no faith. They rely on 
the power of a dollar; they are deaf to a sentiment. They 
think you may talk the north wind down as easily as raise 
society; and no class more faithless than the scholars or 
intellectual men." A year before this, in his editorial in- 
troduction to the Dial (July, 1840), Mr. Emerson spoke of 
the "strong current of thought and feeling which, for a few 
years past, has led many sincere persons in New England 
to reprobate that rigor of our conventions of religion and 
education which is turning us to stone, which looks only 
backward, which asks only such a future as the past, 
which suspects improvement, and holds nothing so much 
in horror as new views and the dreams of youth." In 



10 



1844, in a lecture before the Boston Mercantile Library 
association, he said: "I call upon you, young men, to obey 
your heart and be the nobility of this land . In every age of 
the world there has been a leading nation, one of a more 
generous sentiment, whose eminent citizens were willing 
to stand for the interests of general justice and humanity, 
at the risk of being called, by the men of the moment, chi- 
merical and fantastic." (This, by the way, is a good an- 
swer to the Philistine attack on Gerrit Smith in the March 
North American; for that "eminent citizen" spent a long 
life in doing that thing and being called by those epithets). 
"Which should be that nation but these states? Which should 
lead that movement if not New England? Who should lead 
the leaders but the young American? The people and the 
world are now suffering from the want of religion and honor 
in the public mind. In America, out-of-doors all seems a 
market; in-doors, an air-tight stove of conventionalism." 
And now, after a whole generation has passed away, and 
America has done something under the lead of its young 
men of that time, Mr. Emerson repeats the prophecy in 
the form of an accepted fact. "At every moment," he said 
in the Old South, "some one country more than another 
represents the sentiment of the future of mankind . At the 
present time none will doubt that America occupies this 
place in the opinion of all nations." Now, therefore, is 
fulfilled what was spoken by Ellery Channing the prophet 
when in 1846 he sung: 

They do malign us who contract our hope 
To prudent gain or blind religious zeal; 
More signs than these shine in our horoscope , — 
Nobly to live, to do, and dare, and feel, 
Knit to each other by firm bands of steel, 
Our eyes to God we turn, our hearts to home, 
Standing content beneath the azure dome. 

The South shall yet be free, — we wish it thus; 

In vain against our purpose may they turn, — 
They are our brothers and belong to us, 

And on our altars Slavery shall burn , 

Its ashes buried in a silent urn . 
Then think not 'tis a vain New England boast, — 
We love the distant West, the Atlantic coast. 

"This writer," said Emerson before these verses were 
composed, "was not afraid to write ill; he had a great 
meaning too much at heart to stand for trifles, and wrote 
lordly for his peers alone ." Indeed there is a more than 
lordly — a princely air in this mandate, a touch of "Le Roy 
le venit" in the phrase "we wish it thus"; 

Sic volo , sic jubeo ; stat pro ratione voluntas . 

I wish it so, and so command, -- 
My will for argument may stand . 



Perhaps this may throw some light on the philosopher's 
jest. Jefferson, in his old age, congratulated John Adams 
that they had emancipated America from "the dull monoto- 
ny of colonial subservience." But to Mr. Emerson every- 
thing is provincial that is not on the highest level of origi- 
nality. He looks forward to a time when the poetry of 
Homer will be as 'the music of tin-pans," compared with 
that other melody of which he once said : 

Come learn with me the fatal song 

That knits the world in music strong, 

Whereto every bosom dances, 

Kindled with courageous fancies . 

Come lift thine eyes to lofty rhymes 

Of things with things, of times with times, -- 

Primal chimes of sun and shade, 

Of sound and echo, man and maid, 

The land reflected in the flood. 

Body with shadow still pursued. 

With a still higher flight of the imagination, Thoreau 
said, "Where was that strain mixed into which the world 
was dropped but as a lump of sugar to sweeten the draught," 
and Emerson again spoke in praise of-- 

Wine which music is, -- 

Music and wine are one, -- 

That I, drinking this, 

Shall hear far Chaos talk with me . 

Kings unborn shall walk with me, 

And the poor grass shall plot and plan 

What it shall do when it is man . 

This was a beverage against which Mr. Baker's prohibi- 
tory law would have no force, though more intoxicating 
than any in which Omar Khayyam used to indulge: 

From the deep mysteries thy goblet fills , 

The wines do murmur 

That Nature warmed her, 
When she was pressing out from must the hills, 

The plains that near us lie, 

The foldings of the sky, 
Whate'er within the horizon's bound there is, 
From Hades' cauldron to the blue God's bliss. 

"Stop up your canals, now, fellows," says the shep- 
herd in Virgil, 'the meadows have had their fill, "--sat 
prata biberunt . Enough of these liquid refreshments, 
and these transcendental recollections. 



(4) 
EDWARD YOUNG AND HIS NIGHT THOUGHTS 



Nevertheless, Mr. Emerson still complains that 
"America is provincial — an immense Halifax." This 
was a good joke and the audience laughed at it, but it is 
a little hard to explain why. In my boyhood the gamins 
used to sing, 

There was a frog lived in a well, 

And, when he died, he went to- -Halifax. 



Young's "Night Thoughts" belonged to that small po- 
etical library upon which the youth of New England were 
educated in the latter part of the last century and the first 
half of this one; the other volumes being Watts's Hymns, 
Milton's poems, Pope's Essay on Man, Thomson's Sea- 
sons, and an odd volume of Shakespeare, here and there. 
Milton and Shakespeare have grown in common fame, 
Thomson is by no means forgotten, and Watts holds his 



11 



own, though no longer sung in the lump as he used to be, 
but by samples and selections. But Dr. Edward Young 
has slipped back into his own night, and has few readers 
of fancy, except in those proverbial extracts which few 
persons recognize as his . I suppose most people take the 
Shakespearean line 

"Tired nature's sweet restorer, balmy sleep!" 
to be Shakespeare's own, and ascribe to some other writer 
the phrase 

"*Tis older Scripture, writ by God's own hand." 
Everybody knows, of course, that Young said 

"An undevout astronomer is mad," 
and that he wrote those consolatory lines, 

"Pygmies are pygmies still, though perched on Alps, 
And pyramids are pyramids in vales, "-- 
but who ever thinks of the fine line that follows, 
"Virtue alone outbuilds the Pyramids?" 
A million copy-books bear witness to Young's maxim, 

"Procrastination is the thief of time," 
and everybody quotes 

"How blessings brighten as they take their flight!" 

Dr. Young lived to see most of his blessings illuminated 
in this way, for he was one of the most long-lived poets that 
England has produced. Born in 1681, he survived till 1765, 
and wrote a long poem after he was 80 years old. He was, 
of course, contemporary with Pope (who was not born till 
1688), with Swift, Addison, Gay, Watts, Collins, Gray and 
Johnson, and he outlived most of them. The recent books 
give the date of his birth as 1684, but I prefer to follow 
Mitford's chronology, which best agrees with the facts. 
He was distinguished as a scholar, and early found fame 
as a wit, which brought him into the acquaintance of more 
famous wits. It is he who tells the story about Ambrose 
Phillips and Julius Caesar, which Mr. Froude may read 
with profit. Phillips asked Swift and others what sort of 
person they supposed Caesar was; to which they answered 
that he was a small man, and thin-faced. "Now for my 
part," said Phillips, "I should take him to have been of a 
lean make, pale complexion, extremely neat in his dress, 
and five feet seven inches high, "--an exact description of 
Phillips himself. Swift replied with much courtesy, "And 
I, Mr. Phillips, should take him to have been a plump man, 
just five feet five inches high; not very neatly dressed, in 
a black gown with pudding sleeves." Dr. Young also re- 
ports the saying of Colley Cibber's brother to Dr. Burton, 
"That he did not know any sin he had not committed, but 
one, which was avarice, and if the doctor would give him 
a guinea, he would do his utmost to be guilty of that, too." 
Young's wit seems to have made him waste much time in 
the early part of his life, not in vice, as many poets have 
done, but in frivolous company. Pope says he passed "a 
foolish youth, the sport of peers and poets, --but his hav- 
ing a very good heart enabled him to support the clerical 
character when he assumed it, first with decency and 
afterward with honor." He was late in everything; did 
not publish verses till he was 31 years old, and became 
a clergyman at 47, after a successful career as a satirist 
and playwright. As a lyric poet he was a failure, as his 
Ode to Ocean, written in 1728, bears witness. 

The soul refined 
Is most inclined 



To every moral excellence; 

All vice is dull, 

A knave's a fool; 
And virtue is the child of sense. 

This is one of the stanzas, and here are one or two more: 

The main! the main! 

Is Britain's reign; 
Her strength, her glory, it's her fleet; 

The main! the main! 

Be Britain's strain; 
As Tritons strong, as sirens sweet. 

And storms deface 

The fluid glass, 
In which ere while Britania fair, 

Looked down with pride, 

Like Ocean's bride, 
Adjusting her majestic air . 

This is very poor stuff, and far enough from conform- 
ing to Young's own rule, in which he says, "Ode should be 
peculiar, but not strained; moral, but not flat; natural, 
but not obvious; delicate, but not affected; full, but not 
obscure; fiery, but not mad; thick, but not loaded in its 
numbers." And he ventures to hope that he has "hit the 
spirit of ode in general"; he certainly took good aim, and 
the poor victim never drew a long breath again. He did 
not attempt "ode" any more, but as Pope said of himself: 

Not in fancy's maze he wandered long, 

But stooped to truth, and moralized his song. 

His "Night Thoughts" were, no doubt, many years in com- 
posing, but they were published in 1742-44, when Young 
was upwards of 60. He seems to have wished to contro- 
vert the optimism of Pope's Essay on Man, and to direct 
men 's minds beyond the present world . "The title of my 
poem," said Young, "is not affected, for I never compose 
but at night, except sometimes when I am on horseback." 
At this time he was in his parish of Welwyn, where he 
ever after lived and where he died and is buried. At the 
age of 50 he had married Lady Elizabeth Lee, a widow 
and the daughter of a nobleman, by whom he had one son, 
born about 1 733 , with whom for some reason he quar- 
reled in his old age. His wife died in 1741, her daughter 
and son- in-law- -the latter a son of the then Lord Palmer- 
ston--had died shortly before. It is to these bereave- 
ments that the famous lines allude: 

Insatiate archer! could not one suffice? 

Thy shaft flew thrice, and thrice my peace was slain; 

And thrice, ere thrice yon moon had filled her horn. 

It is supposed that "Philander" and "Narcissa" are Mr. 
and Mrs. Temple, but nobody seems to know who "Lo- 
renzo" was, some suggesting the wicked younger Whar- 
ton, who was a friend and patron of Young in his early 
life. It would seem almost a satire on Wharton to tell 
him of a virtuous man, 

Whose yesterdays look backward with a smile, 
Nor, like the Parthian, wound him as they fly. 



12 



To be sure, Wharton, like any other man, might be warned 
of time misspent, 

'Tis greatly wise to talk with our past hours, 

And ask them what report they bore to heaven, 

And how they might have borne more welcome news. 

Wharton died, however, the year that Young was married. 
He had tried to bring Young into Parliament, and had given 
him much money, which, from so profligate and notorious 
a person, has done the poet's reputation some harm. So, 
too, has his letter to Mrs. Howard, one of the mistresses 
of George II, to whom he wrote, after he was 50 years old, 
asking for church preferment, which he never received. 
More than 20 years later (in 1758) he applied again for pre- 
ferment, this time to the archbishop of Canterbury, who 
replied: "I have long wondered that more suitable return 
of your great merit hath not been taken by persons in pow- 
er; but how to remedy the omission I see not. Your fortune 
and your reputation set you above the need of advancement, 
and your sentiments above that concern for it, on your own 
account, which is sincerely felt by me." It seems, how- 
ever, that Young in his old age was penurious and unhappy. 
His curate, one gossiping Jones, in 1762 writes: "The old 
gentleman seems to me to be in a pretty odd way of late, 
moping, dejected, self-willed, and as if surrounded with 
some perplexing circumstances. There is much mystery 
in almost all his temporal affairs, as well as in many of 
his speculative opinions . Whoever lives in this neighbor- 
hood to see his exit, will probably hear and see some very 
strange things--time will show--I am afraid not greatly to 
his credit." He was reconciled to his son upon his death- 
bed, however, and left him, according to Jones, "a very 
handsome fortune," which, with all his meditations on 
death and eternity, the moralizing poet had contrived to 
get and keep. 

Lamartine was never able to keep his fortune, but in 
his turn of mind he resembled Young, as Taine thinks . 
"Young and his contemporaries say beforehand that which 
Chateaubriand and Lamartine were to discover. The true, 
the futile, --all is here 40 years earlier than in France." 
Granting this to be so, the Frenchmen were certainly more 
romantic and youthful than the author of "Night Thoughts." 
Young knew Voltaire and was thought by some of his con- 
temporaries to equal him in wit; such, however, has not 
been the verdict of time. He took Voltaire to task in his 
senile poem, "Resignation," but there is little merit in 
the reproof. Young will retain a good reputation, but he 
was not, like Voltaire, one of the makers of an epoch. 
The edition of his poems which Houghton & Osgood publish 
does not contain his tragedies, one of which long kept the 
stage, and contained the lines: 

Souls all on fire, and children of the sun, 
To whom revenge is virtue. 

His sermons and prose pieces are justly forgotten. 



the best. Like Walt Whitman, in all his books he cele- 
brates himself, and the scenery varies without chang- 
ing the principal character. They tell us that in the old 
Greek plays there was originally but a single actor, who, 
in company with the chorus, said and sung all that was to 
be heard from the stage. It is something so with Mr. Al- 
cott's books--his chorus is a rich and untraceable group 
of authors, from whom he quotes, not always by name, 
and whose verses, when they happen to be poets, he al- 
ters to suit himself. Thus, in citing from Cowley's re- 
markable ode on "Destiny," toward the end of "Tablets," 
Mr. Alcott omits and changes verses, so as to adapt the 
lines to his own purpose. Cowley's "midwife Muse" be- 
comes a "midnight nurse"; "unlucky doom" is "deter- 
mined doom," and the line, 

"Figures, alas! of speech, for Destiny plays us all," 
becomes in Mr. Alcott's version, 

"Not figures these of speech, --forefathers sway us 
all." 

This is not an example to be imitated, though in Mr. Al- 
cott it does no special harm--for nobody expects verbal 
accuracy in an author so elusive and oracular. His books 
are to be read more for what they inspire and suggest 
than for what they directly communicate, a thing always 
to be borne in mind by those who read and criticise. At 
the period of the "Tablets," some dozen years ago, Mr. 
Alcott was happy in his garden and orchard, at the house 
which has since become the seat of his summer school of 
philosophy--but philosophy by that name was as yet un- 
thought of. He planted and pruned his trees, plucked their 
fruit, rambled in the pine wood above the house-top, and 
arranged these arabesque essays which cannot be read 
without pleasure, nor without some agreeable confusion 
of mind. The new edition, lately published by Roberts 
Bros., differs slightly from that of 1868, which was en- 
tirely out of print, and will be welcomed by the author's 
old friends, as well as by the many new ones whom his 
recent utterances and experiences have drawn toward 
him. Just now Mr. Alcott is absent, not only from the 
Orchard house, but from Concord altogether- -having de- 
parted late in October on one of those winter pilgrimages 
westward which he has made periodically of late years. 
He was lately in Connecticut, now probably in Pennsyl- 
vania, and will soon be in Ohio, Illinois, Missouri, Iowa 
and Wisconsin- -perhaps spending his 80th birthday (No- 
vember 29) at St. Louis, which is the farthest point west 
in his journey of this year. As he goes along, he con- 
verses, lectures, preaches from pulpits and talks in 
schools from one city to another; and this year he will 
have much to say concerning the Concord school of phi- 
losophy, founded by him and likely to continue and be- 
come an established institution. He may return to Con- 
cord before Christmas, or he may not until the winter 
is well advanced. He travels alone, but finds friends 
wherever he journeys. 



(5) 
BRONSON ALCOTT'S TABLETS 

Of all the books written or compiled by Mr. Alcott, his 
"Tablets," first printed in 1868, will probably be reckoned 



(6) 

THE HOLMES BREAKFAST 

The Holmes breakfast began at a little before 2 o'clock 
this afternoon and was not over till 7 in the evening. It 



13 
was, in fact, the most brilliant dinner party that Boston 
has seen for many years, and never will it be possible 
to collect again about a festal board so many of the great 
names in American literature as met at the Hotel Bruns- 
wick to-day. Longfellow and Lowell, Bronson Alcott and 
Miss Alcott were absent--but Emerson, Whittier, Mrs. 
Stowe, Mrs. Howe, Rose Terry Cooke, Miss Preston, 
Mrs. Diaz, Charles Dudley Warner, Mark Twain, How- 
ells, *'H. H.,"Col. Higginson, Nora Perry, Miss Sprague, 
Cranch, Trowbridge, John Burroughs, James Freeman 
Clarke, Charles Francis Adams, Jr., Edward Atkinson, 
Miss Jewett, Aldrich, Stedman, Lucy Larcom, Col. War- 
ing, John Fiske, Mrs. Moulton, Miss Gertrude Bloede 
("Stuart Sterne"), George P. Lathrop, Rose Hawthorne 
Lathrop, Frank Foxcroft, Mrs. Julia Dorr, James Parton 
and many more were there in person, and those who could 
not come sent letters of regret. Dr. Holmes himself was 
in full force, and his poem, though grave and almost tear- 
ful at times, was in his best vein. Of the speeches, those 
which you will print were good, as your readers will see, 
but those not put in type before they were delivered were 
not less good. Mrs. Howe's was the first real speech of 
the afternoon- -delicate in sentiment, musical in tone, and 
ending with a poem worthy of her who wrote it and of him 
to whom it was addressed. Mrs. Howe sat between Mr. 
Howells and Mr. Fields, as if to indicate that an old feud 
which has long excluded her from the Atlantic had come to 
a peaceful end. Mr. Emerson escorted Rose Terry to the 
table, and by Mr. Warner sat Mrs. Whitney, the novelist. 

Mr. Warner's speech, like that of Mr. Howell's, was 
in the happiest strain of humor, and the poems were all 
noteworthy. Stedman *s attracted much notice, and Whit- 
tier's was loudly applauded. He had retired before it was 
read, and Mr. Emerson, Mrs. Howe, Miss Stuart Phelps 
and other distinguished guests withdrew before 5 o'clock, 
but the festivities were kept up with unabated zest long 
after Mark Twain and the president of Harvard college 
had spoken. It is impossible to give you all that was said, 
for The Republican could hardly contain it, but I send you 
a fair sample of it. The breakfast-dinner was of the best, 
and the whole affair was fortunately guided. 

This breakfast seems to indicate that the publishers of 
the Atlantic have instituted a custom of giving their dis- 
tinguished contributors a cheerful send-off as they pass 
the mile- stone of 70. Whittier had a dinner given him two 
years ago, but to the Autocrat, Professor and Poet of the 
Breakfast Table it would have been infelicitous to offer any- 
thing except a breakfast, and as a breakfast accordingly 
the feast goes down to history. The strange mistake of the 
former occasion, when the women were left out of the feast 
on an occasion which they especially deserved to grace, 
was not made this time; and Mr. Houghton in his opening 
speech made jocose allusion to the wiser inclusion of this 
day, pleading that the publishers "always intended to invite 
the ladies," but bashfully feared to ask lest they should be 
refused, as in their green youth when they daren't "pop 
the question." Such was Mr. Houghton's excuse; after 
solemnly delivering it, he proceeded to compliment not 
Dr. Holmes alone, but several of the great contributors, 
speaking of Mrs. Stowe not by name, but as 'the author 
of the great prose epic of the century--a narrative which 
preceded, like the murmur which precedes the earthquake, 
the greatest social revolution of ancient or modern times." 



Dr. Holmes responded to Mr. Houghton (who conclud- 
ed his pleasant speech with a toast) by reading his poem, 
one of the best of his remarkable list of occasional poems, 
that so far surpass in evenness of quality any other poet's 
work in that line. Editor Howells followed with remarks 
of a humorous sort, to the effect that he is not the editor 
who rejects contributions, but the other fellow; and passed 
easily from that strain to excellent praise of the guest. He 
also had somewhat to say of the women who have had so 
much to do and have done it so richly for the Atlantic; al- 
luding, as Mr. Houghton did, to Mrs. Stowe, "whose great 
novel, iliad and parable in one, remains sole and grand as 
its occasion." "I desire," said Mr. Howells, 'to salute 
her first of the women to whom we bow in the first and 
only toast I shall read." This toast was read by Mr. Al- 
drich and answered by Mrs. Howe, who spoke finely, and 
also read a poem. Mr. Warner's remarks, elsewhere 
given, followed, with his reading of Mrs. Hunt-Jackson's 
verses- -a slender string of quoted titles and phrases 
hardly worthy of the occasion. 

Mark Twain's speech was humorous, of course, but not 
to a melancholy degree. He confessed to having stolen the 
dedication of his "Innocents Abroad" from Dr. Holmes's 
"Songs in Many Keys" by a process of unconscious ab- 
sorption (like the Rev. Lorimer's), and to owning it up, 
whereby it happened that Dr. Holmes wrote back forgiving 
him-- "the first great man who ever wrote me a letter," 
said Mark in an affecting way. The joke will be more 
palpable if every one buys a copy of "Innocents Abroad" 
and reads the dedication. There were other speeches 
made, by J. W. Harper, President Eliot of Harvard, 
Charles Eliot Norton, Dr. Bellows, James Freeman 
Clarke, Col. Higginson, C. P. Cranch, Phillips Brooks, 
F. H. Underwood, W. A. Hovey and ex-Gov. Rice, and 
poems read, besides those you will print, by William 
Winter and J. T. Trowbridge. Many letters of regret 
were received, the essential portions of some of which 
are appended. Among the others who sent congratulations 
and regrets, the names of Carl Schurz, Frederick Doug- 
lass, George Bancroft, Mrs. Rebecca Harding Davis, 
President Gilman of Johns Hopkins university, Richard 
Grant White, John J. Piatt, Parke Godwin, Mrs. Frances 
Hodgson Burnett, Mrs. Harriet Prescott Spofford, Thomas 
W. Parsons, Gen. F. A. Walker, Mrs. Thaxter, H. H. 
Boyesen, Rev. E. E. Hale, may be mentioned. 



(7) 

POETRY AND WISDOM: BAYARD TAYLOR, 

HOLMES AND ALCOTT 

Dispute as we may about what is literature and what is 
not, common consent has made all poetry a part of litera- 
ture. It may be very dubious poetry, but it gets admitted, 
at least, to the literary ante-chamber- -it is allowed to 
send in its card to the Muses and let them decide whether 
they will receive this new claimant for their favor. Hence, 
we who criticize are compelled to treat seriously a deal 
of versified stuff that we would gladly give to the owls and 
bats, who, alone, are competent to "interpret" it. They 
are verses, they are verses--what can we do? And out 
of the hylic borboros or muddy chaos of such "effusions" 
a true poet sometimes emerges and casts a luster of his 



14 



after-fame back upon the poor rubbish amid which he first 
found his voice. It is, indeed, a merit in poets not to be- 
gin too well, but to go on from bad to good. Nothing can be 
more discouraging than the uniform good quality of a po- 
etical writer who fails by a hair's breadth of being truly 
poetic. If he would now and then write worse, he would 
please us much better: we like the ups and downs and not 
the everlasting prairie-level of mediocre poems. The poet 
must see things first and say them afterward; if he devotes 
himself only to saying, he soon becomes merely a rheto- 
rician in verse, which is not what we want. For rhetoric, 
commend me to prose; verse has a higher flight, a subtler 
melody. But then, it is easier to become rhetorical than 
poetical--a fact recognized in the old Latin proverb by, 
"Poeta nascitur, orator fit." You must inherit your poetry, 
but you can have your oratory homemade or else learn it in 
the schools. Some poets, even great ones, have been both 
poetic and rhetorical — Euripides, for example, of whom I 
have a word to say apropos of Prof. Mahaffy's little book 
about him. 

Euripides, as the slang of the day goes, is "no slouch." 
Aristophanes tried to make us think so, but he did not suc- 
ceed- -and we like him the less for it. The Attic 'third 
hand" in tragedy--^schylus and Sophocles being the first 
and second- -was full of trumps which were perhaps played 
a little too fast for their best effect. Indeed Prof. Mahaf- 
fy hints that if we had fewer of the plays of Euripides --no 
more than we have of the other two- -we might esteem him 
more highly. As it is we compare his weak points with the 
strong ones of /Eschylus and Sophocles, and thus, accord- 
ing to Mahaffy, do Euripides injustice. There is some- 
thing in this argument, but not much. It is the high quali- 
ty of great poets that gives them their fame, not the quan- 
tity they may write, though that also may be considerable. 
Fertility of mind is in itself neither good nor bad, unless 
we look at the harvest we get from it. But mere fruitful - 
ness and literary readiness is often fatiguing- -even in po- 
ets as great as Euripides. Still more is this so with Bay- 
ard Taylor whose "Poetical Works" have lately been pub- 
lished by Houghton & Osgood in a new "Household Edition." 
Taylor was not Euripides, though he wrote almost as long 
and perhaps as much. He was not, in any high sense of 
the word, a poet at all, though he wrote good verse and 
strove earnestly to achieve rank in poetry. He was a 
rhetorician adopting the poetic form of expression; and 
such writers can come very near, time and again, with- 
out quite hitting the mark they aim at. Even Euripides 
failed, as we see, though he was an undoubted poet and a 
genius of no common order. Prof. Mahaffy's "Euripides," 
published by Appleton in Prof. Green's series of "Classi- 
cal Writers," does him no more than justice, and well in- 
terprets him to the modern reader, who is likely to know 
little about him at first hand. 

We have all known much concerning Bayard Taylor; he 
was long before the world, wrote much, and early became 
popular by his first prose book. His early poems also 
were pleasing and I remember some of them that I first 
read in the Tribune more than 30 years ago. He labored 
at poetry for many years, in original verses, in transla- 
tions, and at last, in an ambitious drama of the world's 
history which came out just before the author's death. It 
was a serious, earnest work, and in it the author pushed 
his talent as far as it would go- -yet it still fell far short 



of genius. So we must say, too, of this collection of his 
shorter poems which his friend Mr. Boker has edited, 
and his friend Stedman has commended in an elaborate 
review, printed the other day in Scribner's magazine. 
There is much that is good in it, but nothing that is very 
good, and little that will be long remembered. "A miss 
is as good as a mile," and he who just misses the poetic 
prize is as far off from it as he who has never contended. 
I do not expect to see fine poets produced in Pennsylvania; 
that American Boeotia has done much for mankind, but 
she has not contributed many memorable verses. There 
is something in this ban of locality- -in some regions po- 
etry will not be written for ages, if ever, while in others, 
like Attica and Scotland and New England, it seems to 
bubble forth from the ground or to be breathed in the air, 
so native and abundant is it. Who are the recognized po- 
ets of America? Bryant, Emerson, Longfellow, Whittier, 
Lowell, Holmes, Poe--all born in Boston, or within a 
shorter distance from that city than Harrisburg is from 
Pittsburg, or Philadelphia from the oil-wells. Perhaps 
the next crop of poets will spring up elsewhere- -it may 
be in the South- -but Pennsylvania will not yield them, nor 
quite know what to do with them . 

Dr. Holmes, now at the age of 70, is a poet, and hard- 
ly less so than he was at 30, when his verses were known 
to every schoolboy, who 'tore her tattered ensign down" 
and exulted in the comic ballads. We are closely follow- 
ing the good Greek custom of preserving poets till they 
are older as well as wiser than other people. Sophocles 
and Simonides lived to be 90, Homer was of unknown 
years, and even the discontented Euripides, who could 
see nothing but labor and sorrow in old age, did not die 
till he was 74. Our eldest poet, Dana, lived to be nearly 
as old as Simonides, Bryant till long past 80, Emerson 
will soon be 77, Longfellow and Whittier are beyond 70, 
and now our lively and youthful Dr. Holmes has come to 
three- score and ten. It so happens that the birthday of 
three famous men of this vicinity come near this date- 
Mr. Alcott, Wendell Phillips and Dr. Holmes. Mr. Al- 
cott and Mr. Phillips were born on the same day 12 years 
apart- -for the Concord sage was 80 and the Boston orator 
68 last Saturday. Mr. Alcott's friends celebrated the an- 
niversary in Concord by a meeting at the Saturday club, 
of which he is the oldest member, and of which Mr. Em- 
erson is also a member. The club proposed that Mr. Al- 
cott should spend a part of his 81 st year in sitting for his 
bust to Mr. French, the Concord sculptor, and this will 
be done whenever the philosopher and the artist can come 
together. Mr. Alcott returned rather suddenly from the 
West, where he had expected to spend his birthday, and 
reached Concord in time for Thanksgiving and for the im- 
promptu celebration just mentioned. In course of the 
evening he related briefly the story of his life, from his 
boyhood in Connecticut and his early travels in Virginia, 
to these latter days of the school of philosophy, and mis- 
sionary journeys in the West. It was new to many of 
those who heard him, and is a romance in itself, which 
one of these days Miss Alcott may write out in due ro- 
mantic form. Dr. Holmes has led a more prosaic life 
in its externals --that of a citizen and professor, with 
duties of the scholar and lyric poet added thereto. For 
40 years he has been the laureate of Boston and Cam- 
bridge, and has read more occasional poems than any 



15 



man living, I suppose. The astonishing thing about it is 
that they are all so good, and some of them wonderfully 
good; while his volume of verses, as thick as Bayard Tay- 
lor's and of much easier digestion, is a sparkling treasury 
of wit and poetry . 

The afternoon breakfast given to the Autocrat of that 
meal, at such an hour as he was pleased to appoint on 
Wednesday, was the most interesting event of the kind 
ever happening in Boston, and its incidents were every 
way creditable to the white-haired poet, to his publishers, 
his comrades, his disciples and his critics. Practice, and 
a few previous mistakes, have made the managers of the 
Atlantic perfect in such festivities; and the presence of so 
many women, thirty out of the hundred guests, added the 
final charm to the banquet. The speeches and poems were 
"brief and yet endless," for they kept coming, and several 
were left unspoken when the company broke up at the early 
morning hour of 7 p.m. The only regret was for the ab- 
sent, and that but one woman spoke for herself--she did it 
so well that there was a demand for more. The Atlantic 
contributors could only be represented at the feast- -for 
no dining-room of the kind could hold them all in person. 
Mr. Howells disclosed great capacity for presiding at a 
dinner-table, and all the accessories of the banquet were 
such that everybody enjoyed it fully. There were some 
very neat turns in the speeches; the best, perhaps, being 
that of Mr. Harper, the New York publisher, who said to 
Mr. Houghton, referring to a past time: "You were then 
the acting superintendent of the Bromfield- street Sunday- 
school. In those days you were a young man, and a very 
exemplary young man, for then, as now, your home was 
in Cambridge, and in those days all young men in Cam - 
bridge were exemplary , for there was no elective course ." 
I do not remember anything better in French, or in James 
Russell Lowell. The New York speeches and poems were 
all good, and that of Mr. Winter was affecting in its filial 
tone toward Dr . Holmes . Mr . Aldrich spoke remarkably 
well--in fact, as I have said, all was well done. The let- 
ter of John Holmes, the poet's brother, was the best of 
the letters, as might have been expected from one of his 
exquisite wit. Dr. Holmes himself not only came but 
brought a letter with him which Mr. Houghton read. In 
the course of it he said: "The publishers were fortunate 
enough to secure the services of Mr. Lowell as editor. 
Mr. Lowell had a fancy that I could be useful as a con- 
tributor, and woke me from a kind of literary lethargy, 
in which I was half slumbering, to call me to active serv- 
ice. Remembering some crude papers of mine in an old 
magazine, it occurred to me that their title might serve 
for some fresh papers, and so I sat down and wrote off 
what came into my head under title 'The Autocrat of the 
Breakfast Table.' This work was not the result of an ex- 
press premeditation, but was, as I may say, dipped from 
the running stream of my thoughts . Its very kind recep- 
tion encouraged me, and you know the consequences, 
which have lasted from that day to this." Part of this, 
we remember, was said in the preface to the collected 
Autocrat papers, wherein specimens of these early writ- 
ings were given, and the account given of that memorable 
attempt to get up a universal howl, when the world was 
never so still since the creation. 



(8) 
BARTOL, EMERSON AND TRANSCENDENTALISM 

The Seven Against Thebes in the old Greek legends 
fought valiantly but had bad luck--only Adrastus surviving 
urged on their sons to go forward and avenge the fathers 
who fell under the walls of the Boeotian city. This the so- 
called Epigoni , or sons of the seven chiefs did, 10 years 
after the defeat of Polynices and Tydeus, and the death of 
Antigone, who had obeyed the higher law and buried her 
brother, against the will of the Theban king. The story 
is a complicated, tragic and romantic one, which the old 
poets loved to tell in its various windings; it was one of 
the three great themes that Milton assigns to tragedy, 

Presenting Thebes or Pelops' line, 
Or the tale of Troy divine. 

In New England the Boeotian citadel was the fortress of 
orthodoxy, which Channing and his six companions as- 
saulted with varying fortune, but, on the whole, without 
success. The old order of things could not then be swept 
away, though Channing, and those who enlisted with him 
made a stout fight and planted their flag well forward upon 
ground which has never been retaken. But the Unitarian 
Epigoni have fairly flanked the evangelical acropolis and 
made its old defenses useless- -the garrison have marched 
out, changed arms and armor with their opponents, and 
are now carrying on the struggles elsewhere against as- 
saults very different from those of Channing and Walker 
and Dr. Pusey. Among these Unitarian after-comers, 
or Boston Epigoni , the most brilliant and subtle is Dr. 
Bartol. He has more wit than he knows what to do with, 
and so scatters it about his pages in wealthy profusion. 

As where the gorgeous East with richest hand 
Showers, on her kings barbaric, pearl and gold. 

He has been many years coming to this autumnal harvest 
of his genius, which in the earlier days did not make him 
specially distinguished among the Unitarian writers of 
New England, so many of whom had a good style, far less 
quaint than that of Mr. Bartol. But now that he has passed 
three-score, and even approached the scriptural limit of 
three- score and ten, he has become, since the silence of 
Emerson, the most profound and witty of the transcen- 
dental authors. John Weiss, whose talent he celebrates 
in his latest volume, "Principles and Portraits," was not 
to be compared with Dr. Bartol for serene and wise phi- 
losophy, or for grace of utterance. Weiss had more 
learning of some kinds, but less knowledge and less wis- 
dom, for Dr. Bartol has reached by genius and by years 
that state of mind aptly described by Milton. 

When old experience doth attain 
To something like prophetic strain. 

There is a certain resemblance between the style of 
Emerson and that of Bartol, or perhaps rather, a com- 
mon resemblance to the good prose writers of the Eliza- 
bethan and early Stuart periods in England, which both 
remind us of. Only there is greater seriousness and a 
finer poetic sense in Emerson, greater playfulness and 



16 



quaintness in Bartol, who constantly makes us think of old 
Fuller and Izaak Walton, and sometimes of Sir Thomas 
Browne, to whom Thoreau once compared Emerson. In 
the richness of fancy, the play of the mind, running into 
conceits and anecdotes, Dr. Bartol recalls that other witty 
preacher, Dr. Donne, who went beyond the bounds in his 
ordinary writing and injured a noble style by fantastical 
images and conceits, as in our time John Weiss has done. 
Dr. Bartol has a stricter taste but a fancy no less radiant 
and active, and so does not fall into the worst faults of 
Donne, who yet had touches of the best. One of our New 
England wits has described Donne so well that he ought to 
be quoted — for nobody will ever do it better to my judg- 
ment: 

Scholastic Donne! 

Acme of self-conceit, 
The Phaeton of poets ! one 

To whom distinct concern was counterfeit, -- 
At first thy song made me feel sick at heart, 

Plaited with not a line of Goethe's art. 

Perplexing Donne ! 

The enemy of a strait road, 
To whom the honest sun 

Must have as a traitor showed; 
I learned to love thee soon, 

Pleased with the subtle tune. 

Heady yet wise ! 

As far as thy blind scrannel goes 
Not to be imitated; 

Searching, with thy deep eyes, 
Thoughts that by no one have been said 

Except thyself; the dies 
For thy rich coin no later muse bestows. 

That Dr. Bartol is a Transcendentalist sufficiently ap- 
pears on every page of his book, even if we did not know 
it from other sources. Here is what he says about the 
arrogant claims of science in our time, in his chapter on 
"Education," which was read at the Concord school of phi- 
losophy last summer, amid much applause and satisfac- 
tion: "But has not science a right to the van with the crowd 
of her triumphs in these modern times, tracing the one or- 
ganic thread on which worm and man are strung, hunting 
up in all things our relations, establishing the derivation 
of every earthly mine and quarry from the sun by observa- 
tion of the metals in his beams? Admirable industry and 
success, pertaining, however, to structure and surface 
alone. But are not these investigations deep, while other 
pursuits and abilities are comparatively shallow and on 
the outside? I answer, as materialists we are on the out - 
side , for matter has no inside . That is its definition. 
The abyss, the core of the planet is as external as the top 
of the ground. A thought or a feeling may have depth, but 
an atom or a constellation has not. No space or ether is 
fathomless but the soul." If we follow matter to its last 
retreat, the atom, we find it, however, to be lurking un- 
der the form of spirit, for an atom, strictly speaking, is 
an inside without an outside — an indivisible something, 
beyond which we cannot go. 

More than 300 pages of Dr. Bartol 's book are devoted 



to "Principles," that is, to the discussion in a prose lyri- 
cal way, of certain great topics--Deity, Science, Life, 
Love, Art, etc. , while less than half as many pages are 
given to "Portraits," or sketches of Shakespeare, Chan- 
ning, Weiss, Garrison and Hunt, the painter. But the 
division is more in name than in fact, for the portraits 
are painted upon principles, and the principles are thick- 
ly dotted with portraits and anecdotes . Father Taylor 
especially shines through the pages at every opening, 
and his good sayings are the spice of many an argument. 
Dr. Bartol argues aphoristically, and with the omission 
of many steps in the logical process, and often takes a 
flying leap, by means of a good story, from one conclu- 
sion to another. This, and some other qualities of his 
style, make his books seem irregular and fragmentary, 
like Emerson's, but there is matter enough in this one 
for a dozen dull volumes written in the ordinary manner. 
It is published by Roberts. 

One of Dr. Bartol 's anecdotes may serve me as a text. 
"The little orthodox boy, repeating his prayers so punctu- 
ally in his country cot, said one morning: 'Good-by, God! 
I am going to Boston to stay a fortnight.'" The jest im- 
plied here, that there is less of the divine being in Bos- 
ton than in other parts of this universe, because there 
is more of the Bostonian, is worth a laugh; but, in fact, 
Boston has always been a profoundly serious and religious 
city, as compared with most, and may even be considered 
now, though its earlier Puritanic and later Unitarian char- 
acter have been passing away with the changes wrought by 
time and chance . The Concord philosophy is also deeply 
religious and was so even in those days when it was called 
by pedantic Unitarians 'the latest form of infidelity." It 
was, in fact, the latest form of fidelity , for no men were 
more faithful to their religious convictions than Emerson, 
Alcott, Parker, Thoreau and the leading transcendental- 
ists whom Prof. Norton attacked and George Ripley de- 
fended. Since then the Concord philosophy has changed 
its outward manifestation, but its essential character is 
the same; it has added a touch of Hegel to the ground- 
elements of Kant and the principles of "ingenious Quaker- 
ism," as old Davenant called the religion of the future. 
At the school of philosophy next summer these tendencies 
will appear, and no doubt others among the multitude of 
students who propose to hear the lectures and take part 
in the conversations. The Hillside chapel in which the 
school is to meet will be a very plain structure of wood, 
picturesque in its situation under Mr. Alcott's pine-wood, 
and with one of his great grapevines trailing and climb- 
ing over its porch. It will be finished early in May, and 
will be used not only for the school exercises, but now 
and then for Sunday services, perhaps, during the five 
weeks of the term. Prof. Harris will occupy the Orchard 
house close by- -Mr. Emery, the director of the school, 
living now in another part of the village. But the latter 
will take the chair and act as moderator during the two 
school sessions daily, one from 9 to 11:30 in the fore- 
noon and the other from 7:30 to 10 in the evening. The 
afternoons will be left free for the recreation of the stu- 
dents. These should all be registered before July 1, when 
the tickets of admission are to be issued. 

Lamartine was a French transcendentalist who pos- 
sessed the gifts of eloquence and political inspiration 
without that of political direction or leadership, so es- 



17 



sential to the successful statesman. He was therefore 
less prosperous than Lafayette in his essays at governing 
the French, and he lacks, too, the romance of a military 
career such as Lafayette had. But there were many points 
in common between these two French republicans and both 
of them now rejoice, no doubt, at the spectacle, new to 
gods and men, of a republic in France that has lasted ten 
years. Lamartine had a decided advantage over Lafayette 
in his literary gift, though he was not so great a poet nor 
so good a prose writer as we used to suppose when we were 
younger and Lamartine was the fashion. He is out of fash- 
ion now like the tall gray hats and the high cravats he used 
to wear; and it is not in the power of Henri de Lacretelle, 
the author of "Lamartine et ses Amis," (which appeared 
in 1872, three years after the poet's death) to restore his 
friend to the vogue he once enjoyed. This book has lately 
been translated—not too well--by Maria E. Odell and pub- 
lished in New York by G. P. Putnam's Sons. It is often 
amusing, some times pathetic and very French, but it gives 
a fair, though friendly view of the orator who, for a few 
weeks, could restrain the mob of Paris by a speech, and 
who had the good of his country and of mankind sincerely 
at heart. A volume of selections from Lamartine, with 
a short life of him, would prove a good book in America, 
one would say- -so sympathetic are our people with all that 
is really high-minded in France. Perhaps the reading of 
this book, which is quite readable, may lead to some bet- 
ter presentation of Lamartine in this country, where, since 
the rise of Louis Napoleon, he has not had "a fair show." 



(9) 
A VISIT TO RURAL CONNECTICUT 
WITH BRONSON ALCOTT 

My account of the Cheshire centennial the other day was 
necessarily brief, and little was said of the town itself and 
its antiquities, which are enough to warrant a whole letter. 
Though so young a town, Cheshire has an old history, and 
has accumulated a wealth of old furniture, portraits, books, 
clothing and utensils which would amply fit out a town mu- 
seum, if such should be opened now, under the impulse 
given by the centennial celebration. Like most such col- 
lections, there would be nothing very splendid about this, 
for the ancestors of Connecticut were not given to splendor 
in their way of life, although they did occasionally blossom 
out into gorgeous raiment, whose colors make our modern 
wardrobe seem tame by comparison. Their architecture 
was plain, their furniture scanty and somewhat meager in 
aspect, their silver and gold was almost apostolic in its 
quantity- -("silver and gold have I none") and occasionally 
in its stamp- -though I saw no '"postle spoons" at Cheshire, 
and their arts of decoration had not proceeded very far. 
There were some things, however, which we have not im- 
proved upon in a hundred years. The spacious gambrel- 
roofed house, built just before our Revolution, with its 
dormer windows, great chimneys and broad central hall, 
is a form of architecture which we have not bettered, for 
picturesque effect, in all our vagaries of later years; and 
there was also a picturesque look, combined with comfort, 
in the earlier fashion of "lean-to" or "linter" farm-houses. 
Good specimens of both these forms of architecture remain 
in Cheshire- -the most noticeable being perhaps the Foote 



house, where Admiral Foote spent his youth, and the 
Beach house, nearly opposite. These were both built by 
Parson Hall of Cheshire, a hundred years ago or more, 
for his daughters when they married, one of them, his 
colleague, Parson Foote, the grandfather of Admiral 
Foote, and the other Samuel Beach, who seems to have 
had more of the old parson's affection than his son-in- 
law Foote did. These houses are both well preserved, 
and so is the ancient tavern built in a similar style, but 
no longer used as an inn. The Talmadge house, near the 
Foote house, is one of the "lean-to" kind, older than those 
I have named, and showing marks of age, but still habita- 
ble and attractive to an artist. In a little "L" of this 
house Bronson Alcott, when teaching the town school in 
Cheshire almost 60 years ago, had his abode- -a bedroom 
with his books and writing-table, where he came and went 
at pleasure without disturbing the household of Dea. Tal- 
madge with whom he boarded. His uncle, Dr. Bronson of 
the Episcopal academy, lived at one time in a quaint old 
house nearly opposite the Talmadge place, but died in 
1826 in the house now occupied by Mr. Brown, the post- 
master, next door to the post-office. All these houses 
and a great many more are worth seeing by any one in- 
terested in the history of Cheshire. 

A large part of this history connects itself with the 
academy, now under charge of Rev. S. J. Horton, who 
read a graceful and effective poem at the celebration. 
This is a school of high rank, once destined for a col- 
lege, which has existed here since 1796, under Episco- 
pal influences, and of late years assuming a military 
character and uniform . The first school building, which 
still stands, though with more modern additions, was 
erected in 1794, when the academies at Exeter and An- 
dover were but new, though more amply endowed than 
this at Cheshire has been. It was first proposed to open 
this episcopal academy at Stratford, where Rev. Mr. 
Bowden, an Englishman, was then teaching school, but 
the people of Cheshire offered inducements to place it in 
their town, and there it has since remained. Dr. Tillot- 
son Bronson, the uncle of Mr. Alcott, became its princi- 
pal in 1806, and so continued until his death in 1826. Dr. 
Horton, his successor, says of this good man: "Simple 
as a child, yet of profound attainments; kind and gentle 
in his manners, yet firm and decided in action; a lover 
of learning, a correct scholar and deep thinker, he made 
a lasting impression upon the minds of his pupils, and we 
hear from their own lips of the love and respect they felt 
for him . Many a one who was favored by his instruction 
has stood by his grave, in the cemetery at Cheshire, and 
mourned for a friend and father!" In this portrait many 
will recognize traits of Mr. Alcott, who is declared by 
the old Cheshire people to resemble his uncle greatly, 
although he has now much exceeded Dr. Bronson in years. 
The latter died at the age of 65, but his ancestors enti- 
tled him to a longer life, for they often lived till over 90. 
Mrs. Alcott of Wolcott, his sister, lived to be 93, and 
her son, Mr. Alcott of Concord, gives promise of a life 
even longer. Like Dr. Bronson, he has turned to poetry 
late in life and has begun to describe the scenery of their 
youth, of which Dr. Bronson gave some sketches in verse, 
while Mr. Alcott aims to picture them more minutely. 
His "Farmer's Boy," or "New Connecticut," when com- 
pleted and published, will be recognized as a close, and 



at the same time an ideal portraiture of manners and men 
long since departed in this region of New England and in 
Virginia. At Dr. Horton's school the evening after the 
centennial celebration, Mr. Alcott told the boys the story 
of those days in prose, but with many of the touches that 
appear in his verse. They heard him with delight, and 
will long remember some of his anecdotes. 

I had the pleasure of visiting with Mr. Alcott yester- 
day the scenes of his childhood in the hill town of Wolcott, 
where he was born in November, 1799, amidst the rocky 
fields and chestnut woods of "Spindle Hill," overlooking the 
landscape for many miles. We drove over from Waterbury, 
four or five miles, the way becoming steeper and more rus- 
tic as we went on, until we came at last into the almost un- 
broken solitude of the country. Wolcott is a town of farm- 
ers, which has not entered in the least upon the manufac- 
turing and commercial activity that is so noticeable in the 
villages and cities of Connecticut; its young men have been 
drawn away to those centers or to more distant cities and 
prairies, until now it contains less than half its former 
population, and shows the painful signs of decay. The 
woodland has encroached upon the wheat fields and or- 
chards of fifty years ago, the rocks have emphasized 
themselves and become more conspicuous, as the hus- 
bandman bestowed less of his incessant labor among them, 
and the houses and barns, though picturesque, do not indi- 
cate the thrift and enterprise that New England needs to 
hold it from reverting to its aboriginal wilderness . On the 
other hand, the gradual approach of manufacturing industry 
throws back upon the hills the picket-lines of a new civili- 
zation and will slowly restore a value to these neglected 
homesteads which they do not now possess, except for the 
imagination. In the memory of the man who was born 
among them, however, they will always hold a high place. 
He finds at each return to the haunts of his boyhood, as 
Tennyson says: 

A distant dearness in the hill, 

A secret sweetness in the stream. 

So it was with my companion. He pointed out to me his 
birthplace- -the house itself is gone--and then, further on, 
the farm on which he grew up (from 6 years old to 22 or 
23), the little stream where his boyish mill-wheel had 
stood, the trough where his father's cattle drank, the 
sheep-fold under the rock, the road to the mill, the site 
of the school-house at the corner, the red cottage where 
his cousin and best friend lived, and each familiar spot 
and winding road associated in memory with the important 
events of childhood. The shop where he had learned the 
use of tools was long since torn down, but the barn is 
standing in which he swung the flail, husked the corn, 
pitched the hay and foddered the cows . In the house which 
he occupied as a young man we saw the wide chimney, now 
bricked up, the disused oven, the room in which he read 
his books and wrote his journals, the twin windows by 
which he sat with his brothers, the upper chamber where 
stood the spinning-wheel and the loom . There were chil- 
dren still playing about the door-yard, and that spring- 
time of the human year which childhood supplies cast a 
hopeful ray across the autumnal prospect that we saw. 
But these were not the children that my friend remem- 
bered, and it was in vain that I imagined myself looking 
with his eyes on the soft October panorama around us. 



Hearken to yon pine warbler 

Singing aloft on the tree, -- 
Thou hearest not, O traveler, 

The song he sings to me. 

Returning to Waterbury we followed down the road by 
Wolcott hill, where the two churches stand almost by 
themselves, and where in the burial place the unrenowned 
forefathers of noted persons sleep under their headstones 
--four or five generations of Alcotts buried in obscurity 
in order that their children might rise to fame. Then as 
we approached the city we took the road along which my 
companion as a boy had ridden his father's horse to mill 
in Waterbury, with sacks of grain before and behind him. 
On the mill site where the grist was ground, 70 years 
ago, there stands, and have stood for two generations, 
the metal-working shops of the Scovills and Kingsburys, 
which we have visited to-day to see the achievements of 
mechanism and the progressive forces that have produced 
the city where the wilderness stood. Button-making was 
the primitive industry of this great establishment, but 
the mechanic forces had a soul above buttons, and now 
are daily transforming the crude metal from the mines 
and furnaces into a thousand forms of use and beauty. 
Brass is still the basis of the whole, but a diversified 
and improved succession of mixtures for which the every- 
day word "brass" seems too meagre and common. It is 
brass in evolution and differentiation, from its lowest to 
its highest uses, and assuming shapes and colors of beau- 
ty, along with new names at each new stage of the proc- 
ess. It was pleasing to learn also that the workman here 
is not sacrificed to his work, but that he owns his house, 
tills his garden and betters his condition from one genera- 
tion to another. We heard of father, son and grandson 
working in the same shops- -the patriarch of the family 
having held to the same occupation and employer for 60 
years- -and we saw a relation between labor and capital 
so mutual in its benefits that it has continued generation 
after generation without strikes and without failures . The 
contrast was great between the village quiet of Cheshire, 
the rustic silence of Wolcott and the increasing sound and 
stir of Waterbury; but this indicated only a natural transi- 
tion from one period to another in the advancing story of 
Connecticut. Mr. Alcott 's ancestors had given the name 
of "New Connecticut" to the hill-tops of Wolcott, but it 
now belongs more fitly to the valleys in which Waterbury 
and its sister cities and villages stand along the Nauga- 
tuck river. 



(10) 
THE CHESHIRE CENTENNIAL AND BRONSON ALCOTT 

The hundredth anniversary of the incorporation of this 
town, which was originally a part of old Wallingford, was 
celebrated to-day with much fervor and quaintness of dem- 
onstration, with much eloquence and simplicity of speech, 
and with the most complete success. The Yankee who re- 
marked, when his minister said, "Providence smiles on 
you, sir,"--"0 yes, parson! he snickers right out," must 
have lived in Cheshire. At any rate the remark would ap- 
ply in Connecticut fashion, to the beauty and fitness of the 
day we have been celebrating, which seemed to be some- 
thing more than the "smile of the Great Spirit," as the 



19 
Indians called the New Hampshire lake, and implied a more 
active participation by Nature in the festivities of the occa- 
sion. It has been a cloudless October season, immeasura- 
bly long, as Emerson says, when even the cattle browsing 
or lying in parti-colored fields, "seem to have great and 
tranquil thoughts." The landscape of these long hills and 
wide plains of central Connecticut, in its gay tints of au- 
tumn, glows like an illustrated missal on which the bright- 
est colors are blazoned without glaring effects, or like a 
display of flags of all the universe, infinite in design and 
hue. Amidst this brilliancy and softness of earth and air, 
the figures of men and women move along and those of 
children and horsemen dart about, like a living kaleido- 
scope, moving to the sound of music which has been puls- 
ing and fluting all day from the rural orchestra, not fas- 
tened to one spot or tramping monotonously in procession, 
but stationed here and there, a drum in one place, a brass 
band in another according to some quaint caprice of the ir- 
regular order of exercises. The village of Cheshire has 
the familiar New England aggregation of gambrel- roofed 
houses, steeples and belfries, orchards, elm trees, door- 
yards and shops, with an old "green" in front of the meet- 
ing-house, where is now pitched the centennial tent, in 
which the speeches of the day were made between 10 o'clock 
and 4:30. Meanwhile, in the town hall across the street a 
motley museum of curiosities and antiquities has been on 
exhibition since 9 o'clock, and has drawn in the crowd by 
thousands. The whole population of Cheshire is 2250, upon 
an area of 24 square miles, but the village alone has had 
5000 people in it to-day, and in the tent this afternoon when 
the best speeches were made there were perhaps 2500 per- 
sons, including crying babies and an old worthy of 93 who 
sat in an old arm-chair on the platform, and looked like 
the very personation of age. The descriptive orations 
were local and prosaic in character, by Joseph P. Beach 
and the village postmaster, Edwin R. Brown, but they gave 
the hearer what he wanted to know, and were delivered with 
a provincial good faith and good humor exactly suited to the 
occasion. William Beach Lawrence of Rhode Island, who 
was to have delivered an address on the "lesson of the 
day," was absent, and so some eloquence and scholarship 
was lost, but this only gave a better opportunity for the 
first general oration of the day by Rev. Dr. March of Wo- 
burn, Mass. , who spoke of "the future of Cheshire" with a 
serious enthusiasm worthy of a hearing in any part of New 
England or of the world. Dr. March depicted a charming 
Connecticut millennium 100 years hence, when all the 
sects should worship in the same temple and go to learn 
arithmetic and philosophy in one "town university," while 
political parties should disappear, and all the farmers, 
for the sake of social advantages, should dwell in the vil- 
lage and cultivate their farms at arm's length, as the Ger- 
man villagers do. Rev. Dr. Horton, the principal of the 
Cheshire academy, an old Episcopal school, now under 
military auspices, followed with a poem in the same liber- 
al and moral vein, and then came the five-minute speeches. 
It so happened that Mr. Alcott of Concord, the dean of the 
school of philosophy, was in Cheshire on his way to his 
native town of Wolcott, not far off, and it also turned out 
that he was the oldest schoolmaster present, being 80 
years old, and had taught a public school in Cheshire in 
1824. Therefore Mr. Alcott was the first speaker called 
up, as the schoolmaster of the older inhabitants of Chesh- 
ire, and his speech is worthy of a full report. He said: 



"Sixty years ago, or nearly so, my friends, I came to 
Cheshire to be the pupil and amanuensis of my venerable 
uncle, Rev. Dr. Tillotson Bronson; and some years later, 
at his recommendation, the school committee of Cheshire 
invited me to take charge of the town school on the green 
opposite where the town hall now stands. I went into the 
school -house and, soon thought that I must improve the 
architecture of its interior. So I engaged a cabinet-maker 
on the street beyond Dr. Bronson's, to make some writing- 
desks for the larger children, and seats with backs for the 
small children. This was done at my own expense; and 
soon after, at my own expense also, I bought in New Haven 
a small library of books which were lent to the school- 
children to read at home. But there was another book, 
which was not bought at New Haven, but which the cabinet- 
maker made for me--a wooden book--that I used to lend 
to such children as did not succeed in their lessons, to 
carry home with them. And to-day I met two of your ex- 
cellent citizens who told me, each of them, that he had 
borrowed this wooden book of me, while they were in my 
school. I introduced slates also in Cheshire, for use as 
black-boards, before they were used elsewhere in Con- 
necticut, unless it were at the deaf and dumb asylum at 
Hartford, where Dr. Gallaudet showed them to me about 
the time I was teaching in your town. He made use, he 
told me then, of slate imported from a quarry in Wales. 
The rod was not held in terror over the school I speak of, 
for I hold, my friends, that the man who cannot govern 
children, or men, either, by moral means--by the power 
of his eye, the charm of his manners, the resources of 
his intelligence—is not worthy to control his fellow- 
creatures. We used to take walks in the fields and woods, 
too, on holidays, and indeed there are scarcely any im- 
provements of which I have heard since I was 30 years 
old that were not imagined and in part or completely put 
in practice in your Cheshire school. (Applause.) 

"And now a few words about my venerable kinsman, 
Dr. Bronson, who for many years was at the head of the 
Cheshire academy, and one of the ornaments of your 
beautiful town. He was born in Plymouth in this neighbor- 
hood, the son of Amos Bronson (whose name I bear, being 
his grandson), and was named by his father, a primitive 
clergyman, for the great Archbishop Tillotson of England. 
My uncle, who was familiarly called 'Tilly' by his friends 
and by his nephews and nieces, had from childhood a 
strong inclination both for learning and for the church. 
His father, though a man of substance, had a large fami- 
ly, and could not afford to give them all the advantages 
that he could wish. So my grandmother, who could spin 
and weave, like most women of that period, used to put 
her daughters to the spinning-wheel and herself to the 
loom, and weave cloth and spin yarn; and then she would 
saddle her horse and carry it in to New Haven, 25 miles, 
and sell it there; and with the money she paid young Tilly's 
college bills. (Applause.) She wove her boy through col- 
lege. Her husband, in his little church four miles away 
at Church Hollow, for some time read the service, led 
the singing and read the sermon; and it was his custom 
to saddle two horses, take his wife or his daughter on a 
pillion behind him with one horse, while a daughter, or a 
son and a daughter, rode the other horse, and thus went 
to church in all weathers. That was the sort of family 
from which Dr. Bronson came, and he was a worthy son 
of such parents. I remember him well, and some of 



20 



you remember him, as he used to walk across the green 
here — then somewhat larger than it is now- -with his gray 
locks floating, and his gown fluttering in the wind, his 
broad-brimmed hat and smallclothes, his cane in hand or 
under his arm, composing verses or magazine articles 
in the open air, as Wordsworth was doing then in England. 
He was indeed a citizen of whom your town might be proud. 
His mother wished him to be a bishop, and it is said that 
he came within one vote of being bishop of Connecticut. 
He was afterward chosen bishop of Ohio, but declined the 
office because, at his age, he did not wish to undertake 
such duties in a distant region. He died in 1825, I think, 
and I was with him in his last days . Such men are what 
our Connecticut villages best produce; it is of these that 
you should take pride rather than in this beautiful scenery, 
or this bounty of nature, which we see everywhere to-day. 
Such men are your best crop, my friends, and it is because 
she produces such that Connecticut and these towns of my 
native state have a name in history. 

"Will you pardon me a word more about myself? for an 
old man may take that liberty. After many years of hope 
and aspiration and meditation, many experiences and dis- 
appointments, since I began serious work in life as a 
teacher here in Cheshire, I finally had the pleasure of 
seeing, in my 80th year, the realization of one long- 
cherished hope of mine. The school of philosophy at Con- 
cord, of which Dr. March has pleasantly spoken, was the 
fulfillment of a dream as sacred to me as his noble vision 
to him; and I have lived to see that school planted in the 
town of my adoption, and in my own orchard. One of its 
most eminent professors, William T. Harris, formerly 
of St. Louis, is now the tenant of my own house, in that 
orchard, and close by is our school, of which you have 
perhaps heard. I feel, my friends, that I have not lived 
in vain, now that so much has happened according to my 
wish . I am thankful also for the opportunity to meet you 
here, and to pass this beautiful day with you amid these 
familiar scenes." 

Mr. Alcott was heard with close attention and spoke in 
his best manner- -looking, too, like the serene philosopher 
he is--and, as the old people here say, like his uncle, the 
doctor of divinity. He was followed by President Porter, 
Mr. Northrop of the board of education, Mr. Burritt, a 
brother of Elihu Burritt, and by other speakers, and the 
services closed with the singing by the audience of the 
hymn, "Praise God from whom all blessings flow." 



(11) 
AMERICAN WOMEN IN LITERATURE: 
AND LOUISA ALCOTT 



LYDIA CHILD 



Sitting down the other day to begin a notice of Miss Al- 
cott and her latest book, word came to me that Mrs. Child 
was dead. The tributes to her character and her work 
which I have seen in the newspapers seem to fall short of 
what she deserves, and chiefly for two reasons- -because 
the age in which she did her chief work has gone by, and 
because those who now edit newspapers have little histor- 
ic connection with that period, and have not learned how 
to trace the ancestral current of journalism in America. 
At one time Mrs. Child was almost at the head of journal- 
ism in America, as we now understand it, for she had that 



independence of character and that general cultivation 
of mind which are now recognized, though they were not 
then, as the indispensable and distinguishing traits of a 
good journalist. To show what I mean, it is only needful 
to quote from Mrs. Child's farewell to the readers of the 
Anti-Slavery Standard, which she edited during its first 
two years—nearly forty years ago--and to remind those 
who remember the Standard, what an admirable paper it 
was, apart from its opinions, which were then very un- 
popular, and now would be greatly admired by the chil- 
dren and grandchildren of those who used to abuse the 
abolitionists. In 1843, when retiring from her editor- 
ship, Mrs. Child said: 

"Editorial writing is the least task and the least merit 
of a newspaper. What is not inserted is a better criterion 
of pure taste and correct judgment than what is inserted. 
In the miscellaneous selections I have made, I have had 
a constant aim to elevate and enlarge the soul. I have 
purposely avoided what would have been popular among 
sects and parties and patriots . I have not sought to glo- 
rify America, but humanity at large. I have not adapted 
my columns to Calvinist or Unitarian, Quaker or Catho- 
lic, but have preferred to show that Jew, Mohammedan 
and pagan have their virtues- -leaving the anti- sectarian 
moral to apply itself. I find much peace in reviewing 
what I have not done. Local plans and individual theo- 
ries, altogether discordant with each other, demanded 
prominence in the columns of the Standard, and deemed 
the treatment unfair, because their claims were not al- 
lowed; I am not aware that any of these whirling eddies 
have at any time made me swerve one hair's breadth 
from the course I had marked out for myself. I knew 
by experience that he who turns from the light of his own 
judgment, and the convictions of his own conscience, has 
neither rudder nor pilot in the storm . I dared not ven- 
ture to substitute even a more enlightened conscience for 
my own. Moreover, in most of the work pointed out to 
me by others, I thought I saw the narrow and proscribing 
spirit of sect and party--that spirit which, as Carlyle 
says, 'would bring the sun down out of heaven and con- 
vert it into their street torch.' The freedom of my own 
spirit makes it now absolutely necessary for me to re- 
tire. I am too distinctly and decidedly an individual to 
edit the organ of any association ." 

This last sentence contains the key to all that has since 
been called "independent journalism," and its definition, 
which Mrs . Child applies to herself, is true also of all 
those who have made a name in our higher journalism. 
She went on to say: "I did not intend to edit the paper for 
abolitionists. The cause needed a medium of communi- 
cation with the people. My aim was, therefore, to make 
'a good family* newspaper. The large proportion of liter- 
ary and miscellaneous matter was not inserted for per- 
sonal popularity; had that been my object I should not have 
edited an anti- slavery paper at all. I did it that many 
might be induced to subscribe for the Standard who would 
not take an exclusively anti-slavery periodical. The New 
York letters were inserted upon something of the same 
principle that made the famous Timothy Dexter send a 
stock of Bibles to the West Indies, with warming-pans, to 
be used for sugar- ladles and strainers. No purchaser 
was allowed to have a pan unless he would buy a Bible 
also. It was an honest, open trick, and, I think, maybe 



21 
easily pardoned." These "Letters from New York" were 
the great "hit" in journalism at that time, were copied far 
and wide, and made into a popular and still readable book. 

It might, perhaps, be Imagined from this, that Mrs. 
Child was not a very strenuous abolitionist, but, In fact, 
few were more so, though she knew better than most the 
distinction between journalism and partisanship of any 
kind. As to her fervor and steadiness in the early years 
of the cause, Garrison's own words in the Liberator are 
a sufficient testimonial. He said in 1843: "Mrs. Child 
is not merely a fine writer, but a noble woman. It would 
not be easy to name another person who has made greater 
sacrifices or exhibited superior moral courage or devoted- 
ness, in the cause of emancipation. When her sympathies 
were first enlisted in behalf of the slave, and she deter- 
mined to become his advocate before all the world, she 
had won for herself extensive literary renown, and was 
caressed and honored on both sides of the Atlantic, by the 
admirers of genius and the directors of public opinion. 
Her writings were productive, not only of praise, but of 
pecuniary advantage. It was at such a time, and under 
such circumstances that she openly took her position by 
the side of the negro slave. In an instant her prospects 
were changed, and as a popular writer her vocation was 
gone. The literary public ceased to give her any counte- 
nance. She was assailed opprobriously and treated de- 
risively. In her presence a visible alteration was mani- 
fested in the countenance and demeanor of old friends, as 
though she had committed the unpardonable sin. In short, 
she lost caste, lost popularity, lost patronage, lost every- 
thing but her self-respect, her attachment to principle, 
her reverence for justice and humanity." And then with 
that unconscious identification of the anti-slavery cause 
with himself, which was a natural trait in Garrison, he 
added: "The acquisition of so gifted an intellect and so 
large a heart to the cause in its infancy was an occurrence 
that filled my breast with joy, and served greatly to re- 
fresh my spirit; the remembrance of it is pleasant and 
strengthening to me as I write this article." In another 
place he says: "The field of controversy is not so much 
to her taste as the grove of contemplation or the arbor of 
poesy; but her clear perception of wrong, and her large 
benevolence of soul impel her to go into the moral arena, 
not so much to achieve a triumph over others, as to dis- 
charge a sacred duty. Between her fondness of literary 
pursuits and her sympathy for the oppressed there is a 
visible struggle; and each, in turn, receives its due share 
of attention, to the relief of her heart and the gratification 
of her intellect." 

Lowell wrote his "Fable for Critics" five years after 
this encomium by Mr. Garrison, and, though he playfully 
noted Mrs. Child's credulity and warm imagination, the 
space devoted to her shows that he appreciated her, and 
her romance of "Philothea" which had appeared but a little 
while before. Her literary merit is likely now to be over- 
looked but it was great at that time, and was so considered. 
She had the advantage from early youth of knowing a great 
number of persons of all ranks and conditions. Her broth- 
er, Dr. Convers Francis, was one of the most learned of 
scholars and clergymen, and her husband, David Lee Child, 
had traveled widely and been brought in contact with the 
world at many points; while her intimate friends were per- 
sons of the most diverse gifts and affinities. She began to 



write when there was scarcely such a thing known as 
American literature, and she dies at a time when we 
have an enormous literature, such as it is, and when 
American journalism is one of the great forces of the 
world. I once had occasion to speak of her as 'the gen- 
ial grandmother of feminine journalism in America," but 
she had a more important connection with journalism than 
even this would imply. Like so many of that goodly com- 
pany of saints to whom she belonged, she lived to ad- 
vanced age, and could see the fruit of her labors for many 
years before her death. It is to be remembered that John 
Brown, whose cause she took up, when he had few distin- 
guished friends, spoke of her as "the old lady," though 
she was almost two years younger than he was, and more 
than a year younger than Mrs. Alcott, who was one of her 
intimates in the period of agitation and reform . 

Miss Alcott, who has inherited many of her mother's 
qualities, is perhaps also the best inheritor of Mrs. 
Child's reputation in literature, though her province is 
so different. Mrs. Child wrote for children at one peri- 
od, as Miss Alcott has done so continually; but she early 
diverged into paths that led her among the studies and 
pursuits of men. She had a better style than Miss Alcott 
has ever attained, but, on the other hand, Miss Alcott has 
far more fertility of wit and dramatic power than Mrs. 
Child, though the latter was not deficient in those quali- 
ties. Mrs. Child was thrown by circumstances, and also 
by her temperament, more into the front of the social and 
political agitation then going forward, than Miss Alcott 
ever has been, or, apparently, ever will be. She was 
also of a more social and political turn by nature, and, 
with all her individuality, was more inclined to march in 
line with other persons. Miss Alcott like most of her sex, 
does not drill very well, as Teufelsdrickh says, Das Weib 
kind wird nicht dressiren --or words to that effect- -while 
Mrs. Child was quite as capable of "dressing". in the mili- 
tary sense, as most of the emancipationists with whom she 
ranked herself. This undisciplined quality of spirit makes 
it much harder than it otherwise would be to assign Miss 
Alcott her due place in literature. Most of the Concord 
authors are a little hard to classify, either through ex- 
cess or defect of genius, and Miss Alcott, who has been 
the most popular of them all, is perhaps the hardest of 
all to place properly in rank. She does not yet vindicate 
her claim to a high place in permanent literature, nor yet 
has she the fatal transitoriness of so many who become 
popular authors. She touches the heart, which no amount 
of mere talent can effect, while her subjects and her man- 
ner of dealing with them seem to forbid to her the title of 
genius, which we would be glad to allow her. She be- 
longs, perhaps in the region where Defoe's work places 
him, though she lacks the consummate literary art which 
Defoe would use when it pleased God- -for he does not seem 
always to have been master of it. A feminine and Ameri- 
can Defoe is what we may best call Miss Alcott, if it is 
necessary to use comparisons and classify her. It is time 
now that she should turn her pen to more serious and con- 
nected literary work than she has hitherto undertaken; the 
connection between her stories thus far being merely that 
they were drawn from experiences in her own life and that 
of her family and friends. A wider horizon now invites 
her, and she has the requisite facility and breadth of 
observation to occupy it, if she proves to possess the 



22 
generalizing faculty, which in Mrs. Child was well devel- 
oped, and in Defoe existed in marvelous activity, though 
he exercised too often, on the pettiest subjects, as is wont 
to happen with journalists and pamphleteers. 

Miss Alcott's "Jack and Jill" is the story of school-boy 
life in Concord village, and adheres very closely to its 
text. The exact places and persons are delineated, the 
names only being changed, and the success of the book is 
evident from the interest with which boys and girls peruse 
it, and keep reading it over. It is the whole village chroni- 
cle for school-children which is here related, and they have 
the satisfaction of thinking that it all really happened to 
somebody. This element of reality--not realism which has 
come to have a bad significance, like "free thinking"- -is 
one of the attractions in Miss Alcott's books, and it is in 
this specially that she resembles Defoe. The talk of her 
character is not so real, though spirited and witty, for 
children do not moralize quite so much in actual life as 
in these tales of Miss Alcott. They like better to be mor- 
alized by others, than to do it themselves, especially to 
each other. Hence they take pleasure, I have found, in 
the pathos and sentiment of Mrs. L. C. Moulton's "Bed- 
Time Stories" of which a new volume has appeared, co- 
incident in time and general aspect with "Jack and Jill." 
Mrs. Moulton's stories have some merits which Miss Al- 
cott's have not- -a more agreeable literary manner, for 
one thing- -but they appeal less forcibly to the childish 
heart and mind, and they do not sell so fast. Miss Al- 
cott's volumes do not now have the rapid sale they enjoyed 
before the "hard times," but they sell well, and I do not 
find the interest which young people have in them is at all 
abated. Wherever any one goes who can tell anything 
about Miss Alcott and the originals of her characters, he 
is closely questioned on those points, as I know from ex- 
perience. Mr. Alcott himself, with all his themes for 
conversation, finds it easier to talk about his daughter in 
most places where he meets the young people, than about 
any other subject; and if Miss Alcott herself would go on 
those long excursions westward which her father delights 
in, she would be feted and lionized from one ocean to the 
other. To this she is much averse, however. She is 
spending the autumn and winter in Boston with her orphan 
niece, the daughter of her sister, Mme. Meriker--the 
child having made the journey and voyage from Switzer- 
land to America very prosperously, a month or two ago. 
Mr. Alcott, the grandfather, is now moving westward and 
may go on until he reaches the Mississippi. Mr. French, 
the sculptor, has modeled a good bust of him, which will 
stand next year, along with that of Mr. Emerson, in the 
chapel of the school of philosophy at Concord. Mr. Bart- 
lett is now revising his Concord guide-book for a new edi- 
tion next year- -adding some new matter and a few more 
illustrations. It is published by D. Lothrop & Co., while 
Roberts Bros . , as formerly, are the publishers of Miss 
Alcott and of Mrs. Moulton. They also publish one or 
two of Mrs. Child's books, which have been distributed 
by a dozen different publishers since she began to write, 
nearly 60 years ago. 




(12) 
ART, HISTORY AND EDNAH CHENEY 

Hardly any book fails to be good when a conscientious 
and observing writer puts into it the study of a life-time, 
directed by an earnest purpose. Mrs. Ednah Cheney's 
"Gleanings in the Fields of Art," notwithstanding its mod- 
est title, is such a book, and whoever reads it will find 
that he learns more from it than from many books that 
are more ambitious and encyclopedic in their scope. It 
is made up chiefly from the lectures on art-history read 
by Mrs. Cheney in 1879-80 before the Concord school of 
philosophy, but these are prefaced by an interesting chap- 
ter on art, and two or three other new chapters are in- 
serted- -notably one on the poems of Michel Angelo, one 
on David Scott and one on English art in general, so that 
there are now 15 chapters. The subjects of each are dis- 
tinct, and not strictly consecutive; nor is the treatment of 
any topic closely chronological, for example, under "Old 
German Art," Rubens, Vandyck and Rembrandt all come 
before Holbein, though long subsequent to him in date. 
Certain schools of art are omitted wholly or but briefly 
noticed; while to no modern painter or sculptor is so 
much space given as to David Scott, the powerful but 
frustrated Scotch artist, whose career is now little re- 
membered, if it was ever fully known, which I doubt. 
On the other hand, certain painters and sculptors con- 
cerning whom one might expect much to be said- -such 
as Turner, Crawford, Story and William M. Hunt--are 
but briefly mentioned or not at all. This is probably be- 
cause the design of the work would be exceeded if these 
artists should be fully treated- -perhaps, also, because 
there is no lack of comment and criticism on them in the 
current publications, while Mrs. Cheney may wish to 
bring forward other subjects to which she believes full 
justice has not been done. Doubtless this is true in the 
case of David Scott; something, also, must be allowed 
in all art criticism, as in literary judgmentg, to the 
force of early association or strong interests casually 
formed, or the sympathy of characters, which is the 
strongest bond in life. 

Mrs. Cheney, though not an artist herself, has for 
many years lived among artists and their works, and her 
husband, long since dead (to whom she dedicates her vol- 
ume, and whose life she is also writing), was one of the 
truest and most delicately gifted of all American artists . 
His genius was narrowed to the work of engraving and 
crayon drawing, in which few excelled him, but it was 
essentially of the same type as Allston's, of whom Mrs. 
Cheney well says: "He is a representative of the fine 
aroma of American life, --of that delicacy, grace and 
fineness which is shown in the beauty of American wom- 
en, in the literature of Bryant, Irving and Hawthorne, in 
the philosophy of Alcott and Emerson, in the theology of 
Hopkins and Channing, in the heroism of warriors like 
Winthrop and Shaw, --and which, to my mind, is always 
typified by our native elm. so tough and strong in its 
fiber, so graceful and delicate in its outlines and foliage." 
Under the strong impression of Seth Cheney's spirit some 
of the artistic judgments and affinities which this book 
displays were formed, particularly, one would say, those 
which concern Michel Angelo among Italian artists and 
Millet among modern French painters. The personality 



23 



of Angelo is so powerful, to be sure, that it must of it- 
self produce a vivid effect on any mind open at once to the 
aesthetic and the moral side of life, and strongly inclined 
also to religious expression, as Mrs. Cheney is. Of all 
the great Italians, not excepting Dante, whose genius is 
so much akin to that of New England, perhaps none has 
so affected our New England leaders of thought as Michel 
Angelo, 

Who Rome commanded, 

And single-handed 

Was architect, poet and bold sculptor too. 

Mrs. Cheney devotes two chapters to this great charac- 
ter, in course of which she directs attention repeatedly to 
the other-worldliness of the man, and to the comprehen- 
siveness of his religion, as shown especially in his statue 
of Christ, now in the church of Santa Maria Sopra Minerva 
at Rome- -entirely unlike any Greek statue, and yet differ- 
. ent from the ordinary ecclesiastical representations of 
Jesus. Mrs. Cheney gives her impression of this work 
just after seeing it, in company with her daughter, a few 
years ago: 

"The Christ of whom you wrote, and in whose birth you 
rejoiced on Christmas day, is the one Michel Angelo sculp- 
tured in stone, which we saw yesterday. I have seen 
prints, photographs and casts before, but nothing which 

did any justice to it. M , with all her hereditary and 

native reverence for Michel Angelo, has always said she 
did not like it in the casts, but she melted at the sight of 
the original. Such beauty, such sweetness, such serenity, 
such holiness, such fullness of life and youth, such help- 
fulness belong to the Son of Man. It is not the suffering 
Christ which Durer has so exquisitely rendered, it is not 
Christ the Judge, so strong and noble in the Last Judgment; 
he has not the penetrating look with which in Titian's Trib- 
ute Money he pierces through the fallacies of the Scribes- 
it is the Son of Man. He is what he should be, not in our 
hours of struggle, but of life. How can I give you this idea 
that he is not weak, but does not suggest struggle, --he is 
sympathetic, yet does not waken the memory of suffering. 
It is entirely free from what you first like and then tire of 
in Fra Angelico. There is no taint of the church upon him 
--he is the Son of the Morning. I have a thousand times 
been struck by the resemblance between Jesus and Buddha; 
and in looking at this conception of Christ there also rose 
to my mind the Buddha, the prince who yields everything 
to help suffering humanity, and thus becomes divine and 
immortally young. And this type was fashioned in an age 
and country more corrupt and quite as skeptical as our 
own." 

This passage will show how seriously and forcibly the 
author forms and expresses art criticism. There is noth- 
ing of the traditional dilettante, and as little as possible of 
the technical jargon with which it is now the fashion to dis- 
figure our language when pictures or music are to be criti- 
cised. The standard of judgment is always a lofty one, too, 
without subjecting artists to the common injustice of judg- 
ing them by what they did not attempt. She quotes with ap- 
proval, and generally acts upon the maxim of Coleridge as 
given to his friend Allston: "Never judge a work of art by 
its defects." She is severe in condemnation of what is base 
in art, however, like those well-painted pictures "which 



represent the corruption and degradation of the French 
world of Paris, that horrible disease which is eating into 
modern civilization, and will destroy it, if it be not it- 
self destroyed"; or what is shallow and trifling, for in- 
stance, "brilliant technical execution wasted upon trivial 
subjects, and not used to express any high thought, but 
only pleasing to the eye by its delicate manipulations and 
nice tinting." She looks upon Millet as best expressing 
the higher meaning of art among contemporary French 
painters. Describing her own impressions of Millet, she 
says: "When I saw him at the little village of Barbizon in 
1855, he was just beginning to reap the outward reward 
of his labors in his art, having received the medal for 
two successive years. He was as simple, natural and 
earnest as a child, but so grand in his presence that I 
was reminded of the Greek's answer to the question, 
'How did you know that he was a god?' 'Because I was 
content the moment my eye fell on him.' He painted life 
about him as he saw it--the stern, hard life of the peas- 
ant. His pictures are revolutionary, and did I want to 
crowd the people down into abject submission, I would 
exclude them as rigorously as Schiller's 'Robbers' or 
Paine's 'Age of Reason.'" 

There are, of course, many opinions expressed in the 
book, with which all will not agree- -for there are wide 
divergencies of judgment in most matters, and nowhere 
more or wider than on art. There are also some errors 
of fact or of translation- -sometimes appearing to be 
printers' blunders, but not always. It was Tennyson, 
not Emerson, who contrasted Europe with Cathay; and if 
Mrs. Cheney will look up the matter, she will find that 
Copley did not take his portraits in the Long Parliament 
picture "mostly from medals," but from family pictures 
scattered all over England, to copy which he spent many 
weeks driving about the kingdom in a post chaise. But 
these are trifles . A more serious defect is the lack of 
an index, for no book needs one more. It can be supplied 
by the publishers (Lee & Shepard), in the second edition 
which will soon be called for; since a book so full of 
thought and suggestion will be sure to find readers. 

I believe Mrs. Cheney is also one of the contributors 
to the big "Memorial History of Boston" which Mr. Win- 
sor, the Harvard university librarian edits, and for which 
Mr. Winthrop, Dr. Ellis, Charles Deane, Charles C. 
Smith, Col. Higginson and many other writers are en- 
gaged. The first volume only has yet been published (by 
James R. Osgood & Co.), but the second will soon ap- 
pear, and the whole four are well in hand. The first vol- 
ume is too copious and not picturesque enough for the 
facts, which were romantic, though they are hardly made 
to appear so in this first volume . The truth is that Bos- 
ton needs to have its history written, not by a company 
of amateurs but by some highly gifted historian, who will 
see far enough ahead, and far enough back, to prevent 
any part of the record from being too conspicuous or too 
much in obscurity. There is a tendency in the native Bos- 
tonian to dwell upon trifles, not losing sight of the main 
issue, but swamping it with a flood of petty particulars 
and discursive writing; and this tendency shows itself 
strongly in the magnificent book under notice. Carlyle 
is taken to task by one of the writers for the egregious 
error that Boston got its name out of respect to John Cot- 
ton, --but if Carlyle had undertaken the whole history 



24 



instead of two or three passing allusions to it, he would 
have made it memorable forever by his way of writing it, 
as well as by its own intrinsic historical value. Why is it 
that Whittier's reproachful allusions to the persecution of 
Quakers in a few of his poems are more easily remem- 
bered than Mr. Winthrop's thick volumes concerning his 
good-natured ancestor? Because the poet has known how 
to seize on the points which affect the imagination, and 
has given at a stroke or two, as Carlyle does, the traits 
of the men of whom he writes . Imagination is a most es- 
sential quality for the historian, and especially for the 
chronicler of New England and of Boston; but it is chiefly 
conspicuous by its absence in these chapters, so full of 
learning, of argument and of research. What figures are 
seen, and against what a background, in the 60 or 70 years 
this first volume covers! The great English revolution of 
l640--the only great revolution the English ever had, or 
perhaps ever will have- -was rehearsed over here on the 
edge of the primeval forest before it could be put upon the 
stage in London; and we found John Hampden and Sir John 
Eliot conferring in 1629 over John Winthrop's "conclusions 
for New England" which set forth the magnanimous reasons 
for establishing a plantation on Massachusetts bay. It is 
to these two among others that Winthrop makes allusion, 
no doubt, when he wrote in 1629: "It is come to that issue 
as, in all probability, the welfare of the Plantation depends 
upon my assistance; for the main pillars of it, being gentle- 
men of high quality and eminent parts, both for wisdom and 
godliness, are determined to sit still, if I desert them." 
He did not desert them, as we know, but came over here 
and took his share, not only of the business of governing, 
but of common manual labor, of which in a new colony 
there is always need. Thomas Wiggin, as quoted by Mr. 
Scudder in his entertaining chapter on the social condition 
of Boston in the colonial period, wrote home to England 
thus about John Winthrop as he saw him in Boston in those 
early years: "And for the governor himself, I have ob- 
served him to be a discreet and sober man, giving good 
example to all the planters, wearing plain apparel, such 
as may well beseem a mean man, and, when he is not 
conversant about matters of justice, putting his hand to 
any ordinary labor with his servants." This was a sym- 
bol of New England and of all America, of which Emerson 
said in his "Boston Hymn": 

God said, I am tired of kings, 

I suffer them no more; 
Up to my ear the morning brings , 

The outrage of the poor. 

I will divide my good, 

Call in the wretch and slave; 
None shall rule but the humble, 

And none but toil shall have. 

I will have never a noble, 

No lineage counted great, 
Fishers and choppers and plowmen 

Shall constitute a state. 

This poem, rather than Whittier's "King's Missive," good 
as that is, should have stood at the opening of the volume, 
for it gives the keynote to the authentic history of Boston. 



"I may upon this occasion," wrote Winthrop in his jour- 
nal, "report a passage between one of Rowley and his 
servant. The master, being forced to sell a pair of his 
oxen to pay his servant his wages, told his servant he 
could keep him no longer, not knowing how to pay him 
the next year. The servant answered he would serve 
him for more of his cattle. 'But how shall I do (saith 
the master) when all my cattle are gone?' The servant 
replied, 'You shall then serve me, and so you may have 
your cattle again.'" 



(13) 
DARWIN AND THOREAU 

In his new book on "The Power of Movement in Plants," 
the great Darwin, working in conjunction with his son, 
Francis Darwin, is "probing with his finger the sanctuary 
of vegetable life," as Thoreau said of less eminent natu- 
ralists two and twenty years ago. Darwin seeks to con- 
nect the life of plants with that of animals, and finds in 
the instinctive movements of both a common ground of 
resemblance. In this he is doubtless right, but to go 
safely beyond this and trace out the differences is not 
so easy, nor so profitable. Thoreau said in 1859: "The 
mystery of the life of plants is kindred with that of our 
own lives, and the physiologist must not presume to ex- 
plain their growth according to mechanical laws, or as 
he would explain a machine of his own making. Science 
is often like the grub, which, though it may have nestled 
in the germ of a plant, has merely blighted or consumed 
it, never truly tasted it." "Accordingly," he adds after 
some more remarks, "I reject Carpenter's explanation 
of the fact that a potato-vine in a cellar grows toward the 
light." This fact Darwin has now undertaken to explain, 
as well as to give a new name to it. His general name 
for such movements is "circummutation," in which are 
included heliotropism, geotropism, epinasty, hyponasty, 
and several other nice names for special turns and capers 
of the growing plant, all of which the Darwins have seri- 
ously studied out and experimented on, with very ingen- 
ious apparatus. These experiments are quite minutely 
described, with diagrams showing how each plant "cir- 
cummutated" or indulged in "apogeotropism " or "dia geo- 
tropism," "epinasty," "hyponasty," or simply went to 
sleep, as some readers will over the volume. The ex- 
periments may be said fairly to prove what he states, 
and his conclusions, therefore, appear to be reasonably 
certain, and not merely hypothetical. He says: "It is 
impossible not to be struck with the resemblance between 
the foregoing movements of plants and many of the actions 
performed unconsciously by the lower animals. The habit 
of moving at certain periods is inherited both by plants 
and animals . We believe there is no structure in plants 
more wonderful, as far as its functions are concerned, 
than the tip of the radicle. It is hardly an exaggeration 
to say that the tip of the radicle thus endowed and having 
the power of directing the movements of the adjoining 
parts, acts like the brain of one of the lower animals." 
Perhaps if this remark is followed up it may lead to some 
more important discovery of the link that connects plants 
and animals. It is curious to see how Darwin, in his old 
age, reverts to botany, in which he first won distinction, 



25 



and how close and sharp his observation still is. Yet one 
must beware of what has been said by another botanist, 
that "man cannot afford to be a naturalist, to look at na- 
ture directly, --but only with the side of his eye. He must 
look through and beyond her; to look at her is as fatal as 
to look at the head of Medusa. It turns the man of science 
to stone." 

These remarks I have quoted come from the new vol- 
ume of Thoreau just published by Houghton, Mifflin & Co., 
which is not, it turns out, a reprint in any degree of the 
selections first published in the Atlantic three years ago, 
but consists of passages from the journal quite distinct 
from those, and relating (so far as they are related to 
time at all) to the latter days of February, the early days 
of April, and the month of March that lays between. They 
are taken from the journals of 23 or 24 successive years, 
beginning in 1838 and ending in 1861, just before Thoreau 
set out on that journey to Minnesota with young Horace 
Mann, in May and June, 1861, after which he never did 
much walking, nor wrote much in his journal. He died in 
May, 1862, and during the six months' severe illness that 
preceded, all that he was heard to say about his out-door 
life was this, standing one day at the window: "I cannot 
see on the outside at all. We thought ourselves great phi- 
losophers in those wet days, when we used to go out and 
sit down by the wall-sides." Channing, his best biographer, 
who records this, adds: "Neither could a stranger in the 
least infer that he had ever a friend in field or wood. His 
habit of entering his thoughts in a journal, which had lasted 
a quarter of a century, --his out-door life, of which he used 
to say, if he omitted that all his living ceased, — all this 
now became incontrovertibly a thing of the past." It re- 
vives again in these pages, which preserve for the reader 
at once the tediousness and repetition of Thoreau's obser- 
vation, and the wonderful flashes and zodiacal light of his 
insight. Intermingled with these extremes of his mind are 
the tender and poetic passages, sometimes but a word or 
two, sometimes a page- -the bluebird being one of the most 
frequent suggesters of such. In March, 1855, he writes: 
"The bluebird on the apple-tree, warbling so innocently, 
to inquire if any of its mates are within call, — the angel 
of the spring! Fair and innocent, yet the offspring of the 
earth; its color of the sky above and of the subsoil beneath , 
suggesting what sweet and innocent melody, terrestrial 
melody, may have its birthplace between the sky and the 
ground." In March, 1859, three years before his death, 
he writes: "The bluebird, which some wood-chopper or 
inspired walker is said to have seen in that sunny interval 
between the snow-storms, is like a speck of clear blue sky 
seen near the end of a storm, reminding us of an ethereal 
region and of a heaven which we had forgotten. Princes 
and magistrates are often styled 'serene,' but what is their 
turbid serenity to the ethereal serenity which the bluebird 
embodies? His most serene birdship! His soft warble 
melts in the ear, as the snow is melting in the valleys 
around." This is one of his short choruses or interludes, 
which divide the dryest passages of his diary; but there 
are longer strains, such as this, written in his 24th year, 
at the period when he was composing his first book: 

"Life looks as fair at this moment as a summer's 
sea, --like a Persian city of hanging gardens in the dis- 
tance, --so washed in light, so untried, only to be thread- 
ed by clean thoughts. The heavens hang over it like some 



low screen, and seem to undulate in the breeze. Through 
this pure unwiped hour, as through a crystal glass, I look 
out upon the future as a smooth lawn for my virtue to dis- 
port in. It shows from afar as unrepulsive as the sun- 
shine upon walls and cities, over which the passing life 
moves as gently as a shadow. I see the course of my 
life, like some retired road, wind on without obstruction 
into a country maze. My future deeds bestir themselves 
within me and move gradually toward a consummation, 
as ships go down the Thames. A steady onward motion 
I feel in me as still as that or like some vast snowy 
cloud, whose shadow first is seen across the fields. It 
is the material of all things, loose and set afloat, that 
makes my sea." 

Compare this with that other passage written in 1856, 
when he was not yet 40 years old, in which he takes leave 
of his friends in advance: "Farewell my friends! my path 
inclines to this side the mountains, yours to that. For a 
long time you have appeared further and further off to 
me. I see that you will at length disappear altogether. 
For a season my path seems lonely without you. The 
meadows are like barren ground. The memory of me 
is steadily passing away from you. My path grows nar- 
rower and steeper, and the night is approaching. Yet I 
have faith that in the infinite future new suns will rise 
and new plains expand before me; and I trust I shall 
therein encounter pilgrims who bear that same virtue 
that I recognized in you, who will be that very virtue 
that was you. I accept the everlasting and salutary law 
which was promulgated as much that spring when I first 
knew you, as this, when I seem to leave you." In the 
same high mood he had written March 14, 1842: "You 
are not venturesome enough for love. It goes alone, un- 
scared, through wildernesses. As soon as I see people 
loving what they see merely, and not their own high hopes 
that they form of others, I pity them and do not want their 
love. Did I ask thee to love me, who hate myself? No! 
Love that which I love, and I will love thee that loves it." 

Passages like the above show the falsity of Lowell's 
estimate of Thoreau as "a man with so high a conceit of 
himself that he accepted without questioning and insisted 
on our accepting his defects and weaknesses of character 
as virtues and powers peculiar to himself." This is a 
better description of Lowell than of Thoreau, who was in 
truth the most austere and exacting critic of himself, as 
of others. Channing is much more true to the fact when 
he thus portrays him: "In our estimate of his character, 
the moral qualities form the basis, --for himself strictly 
enjoined, --if in another, he could overlook delinquency. 
Truth before all things; in your daily life, integrity be- 
fore all things; in all your thoughts, your faintest breath, 
the austerest purity, the utmost fulfilling of the interior 
law; faith in friends, and an iron and flinty pursuit of 
right, which nothing can tease or purchase out of us." 
This is exact to the letter, except as modified by Tho- 
reau's humor, of which he had much, both in the English 
and the French sense; he was not an agreeable person to 
quarrel with, and he sometimes stood upon trifles, as 
all men of high honor are apt to do. Thus, says Chan- 
ning, "when an editor left out this sentence from one of 
his pieces about the pine-tree, --'It is as immortal as I 
am, and perchance will go to as high a heaven, there 
to tower above me still, '--Thoreau, having given no 



26 



authority, considered the bounds of right were passed, 
and no more indulged in that editor," who as it happens, 
was Lowell himself, then just beginning to edit the Atlan- 
tic , If any one will look on page 230 of volume II of the 
Atlantic, for July, 1858, he will see where Lowell made 
his excision, just after the phrase "which heals my cuts." 
This cut, slight as it was, did not heal up, and Thoreau re- 
fused afterward to write for the Atlantic until Mr. Fields 
became its editor and urged him to do so, the year of his 
death. He then retouched and corrected some of his lec- 
tures for the Atlantic, but he died before the first one, 
"Walking," was printed in June, 1862. His comments on 
Lowell's whim about his harmless pine-tree in paradise 
may be found in this new volume, page 41, under date of 
March 2, 1858, and they are as follows: 

"The last new journal" (meaning the Atlantic) "thinks 
that it is very liberal, nay, bold; but it dares not publish 
a child's thought on important subjects, such as life and 
death, and good books . It requires the sanction of the di- 
vines just as surely as the tamest journal does. If it had 
been published at the time of the famous dispute between 
Christ and the doctors, it would have published only the 
opinions of the doctors and suppressed Christ's. There 
is no need of a law to check the license of the press . It 
is law enough and more than enough to itself. There are 
plenty of journals brave enough to say what they think 
about the government, this being a free one; but I know 
of none widely circulated or well-conducted that dares say 
what it thinks about Sunday or the Bible. They have been 
bribed to keep dark. They are in the service of hypocri- 
sy." In October, 1863, Sophia Thoreau printed in the At- 
lantic one of her brother's lectures, in which appears in 
a modified form this gibe at that monthly: "There is not a 
popular magazine in this country that would dare to print 
a child's thought on important subjects without comment. 
It must be submitted to the D.D. 's. I would it were the 
chicka-dee-dees ." 

These are trivialities, but upon such things the quar- 
rels of authors often turn, or rather, petty things like this 
are the occasions for innate incompatibility to show itself. 
Of actual irreverence Thoreau was incapable, far more so 
than those who were shocked at some of his frank expres- 
sions of humor or ill-humor. Says Emerson: "Whilst he 
used in his writings a certain petulance of remark in ref- 
erence to churches and churchmen, he was a person of a 
rare, tender and absolute religion, a person incapable of 
any profanation, by act or thought. Of course, the same 
isolation which belonged to his original thinking and living 
detached him from the social religious forms. This is nei- 
ther to be censured nor regretted. Aristotle long ago ex- 
plained it, when he said, 'One who surpasses his fellow- 
citizens in virtue is no longer a part of the city. Their law 
is not for him, since he is a law to himself.'" Something 
like this statement may often be found in Thoreau 's jour- 
nal, and a great deal of it in his life. Commenting in this 
book on Sir Walter Raleigh's comparison between law and 
war, Thoreau says: "The moral law does not want any 
champion. Its assertors io not go to war. It was never 
infringed with impunity. It is inconsistent to deny war, 
and maintain law, for if there were no need of war there 
would be no need of law." Elsewhere he says, "The great- 
est and saddest defect is not credulity, but an habitual 
forgetfulness that our science is ignorance"; and again, 



"Properly speaking, there can be no history but natural 
history, --for there is no past in the soul, but in nature." 
These and a thousand other sentences in this book of 300 
pages relieve the dryness of much that appears in them, 
and justify what has been said of his style: "Singular 
traits run through his writings, his sentences will bear 
study; meanings not detected at the first glance, subtle 
hints which the writer himself may not have foreseen ap- 
pear. He was not in the least degree an imitator of any 
writer, old or new, and with little of his times or their 
opinions in his books. Never eager, with a pensive hesi- 
tancy he steps about his native fields, singing the praises 
of music and spring and morning, forgetful of himself. 
No matter where he might have lived, or in what circum- 
stances, he would have been a writer; he was made for 
this by all his tendencies of mind and temperament; a 
writer because a thinker and even a philosopher, --a 
lover of wisdom ." 



(14) 
THE CONTINUING TRANSCENDENTAL ERA: 
BRONSON ALCOTT AND SETH W. CHENEY 

Age is retrospective, and it is pleasanter for most men 
after the age of 50 to look back rather than forward, or 
about them . This is one reason why Carlyle in the latter 
half of his long life, was so ill-content with what he saw 
and heard. His youth was not a very cheerful one per- 
haps — but it was sweetened by memories of his mother, 
his father, his family ties--the strong friendship of Ed- 
ward Irving, the love of Jane Welch, --and in it were the 
hopes and the dreams of fame and power in which he in- 
dulged himself, as most young men do. After these early 
dreams faded, when James Carlyle and Edward Irving 
were dead, and the French Revolution had been burnt up 
and re-written, and dyspepsia had fastened upon the great 
Scotchman beyond escape, it is no wonder that he grew 
morose and impatient, --though a great pity that he could 
not have taken a more wholesome view of men and things. 
Transcendentalism, could he have heartily accepted that 
serene faith, would have preserved him from so much 
bitterness, as it did his American contemporaries who 
embraced it. As Mr. Alcott approaches the age at which 
Carlyle died, no trace of his morosity appears, --but, in- 
stead of it, a cheerful activity which has lately carried 
him over a region larger than ten Scotlands, preaching, 
lecturing and conversing to tens of thousands of people. 
Returning home to Concord, he has sat down and begun 
to edit his rustic poem of childhood in New England and 
early manhood in Virginia and Carolina, which Roberts 
will soon publish under the title of "New Connecticut." 
It will be a short poem- -hardly more than a single "Sea- 
son" of Thomson- -but will contain many notes throwing 
light on the localities, manners and persons of whom it 
treats . 

Of the actual "New Connecticut," which has taken the 
place of the old rural life described by Mr. Alcott, the 
artist, Seth Cheney and his brothers at Manchester and 
Hartford were among the creators and promoters. The 
silk industry, in which the Cheney brothers have so long 
been engaged, has grown up in Connecticut, largely under 
their direction; and in 1837 the young artist, who was 



27 



already a good engraver, visited Europe for the second 
time to purchase mulberry trees for silk growing, and 
continued in that mercantile employment for two years 
before he devoted himself to art again at Florence and 
Rome. The whole story of his life, as told by Mrs. Che- 
ney in her Memoir, lately published, is distinctively 
American and transcendental, --a good subject for the 
biographer, and still more for the romance writer, who 
might, with little change from the actual events, turn 
Cheney into the wandering hero of novels such as George 
Sand used to write. He never filled a great space in the 
world's eye, but he was intrinsically an artistic and ro- 
mantic character, about whom legends and memories 
might gather, as about the apostles of art or religion in 
the middle ages. He was born at East Hartford Woods, 
now Manchester, in November, 1810, the same year that 
Theodore Parker was born at Lexington, and grew up to 
manhood amid the simple surroundings of a Connecticut 
farm-house 60 years since; worked on the land, went to 
school, went fishing, studied a little French and Latin, 
and was thought of for a minister by some of his family; 
but, at the age of 19, came to Boston, where his older 
brother—John Cheney--was at work as an engraver, and 
there began to study and to handle the tools of his art. 
He worked at the Atheneum, then in Pearl street, and 
produced his first engraving in 1830. Soon after this his 
brother John went to Europe, and there Seth joined him in 
1833, in order to work and study with him in Paris. They 
worked in the studio of De la Roche, and soon became the 
best engravers of their time in America- -having the true 
artistic nature and conscience. A friend writing of him 
at this period says: "All Seth Cheney's engravings, like 
his drawings, whether portraits or landscapes in crayon, 
have a charming sweetness and beauty of expression very 
rarely met with. The effect of his work is to produce the 
same pleasurable thrill, or something nearly akin to it, 
that we experience in the best examples of Grecian art, — 
an emanation of beauty that makes 'the sense ache.'" This 
is strictly true, however it may seem to persons who look 
upon the crayon-artist as only an apprentice; and there 
have been men who painted almost acres of canvas, and 
yet never reached the fair expression which Cheney could 
attain with the simple lines of his crayon. He came home 
from Paris ill, and afterward spent some time in travel 
and residence at the West--chiefly in Ohio, but extending 
his travels far. Then came the silk-worm period, from 
1837 to 1839, after which, for the greater portion of his 
life (ending in 1856), Seth Cheney devoted himself to art, 
of which he was more enamored than of anything else, and 
in which he had not only delicate powers of execution within 
the limit of his material, but also noble and just views, 
somewhat colored by passing enthusiasms. At Parma, in 
1839, when seeing the great works of Correggio for the 
first time, he wrote to his brothers in America: "I stood 
two hours fixed like a statue before that beautiful picture 
of St. Jerome, so called, of which you have seen engrav- 
ings; but little of its surpassing beauty can be copied in an 
engraving. It is the most sweetly colored picture I have 
ever seen, and the most gracefully composed. In the ca- 
thedral are some of his famous frescoes. No one but Cor- 
reggio has painted angels so lovely in form and heavenly 
in expression. How unfortunate it is that they have been 
painted on such decaying materials! Time has been hard 



on them, and will soon obliterate all traces of their won- 
derful beauty. I gazed long and silently, and turned to go 
away, when I looked down, and before the altar saw one 
that knelt with her eyes fixed on the image of the Virgin 
above her, unconscious of all around. I thought at first 
it was a mere delusion of the vision from looking so long 
on the exquisitely painted forms in the dome above, and 
that the beautiful image was still left on my sight, until 
it moved, and as she passed along, dipped her fingers in 
the holy water, crossing herself, and at the same time 
touching the finger of her little sister that she led by her 
side, who imitated the same motion innocently, as a child 
imitates, looking up to her that led her, instead of to the 
cold marble above. And now I saw where Correggio found 
his models. They walked the earth ever, and do so still. 
He went not to heaven to bring an angel down; he raised 
them from the earth." Cheney seems to have been as 
much struck with the beauty of the Italian women as, in 
his time, two centuries before. Lord Herbert had been, 
who, at Venice tells this story: 

"I was brought to see a nun in Murano, who, being an 
admirable beauty, and together singing extremely well, 
was thought one of the rarities, not only of that place, but 
of the time (1614). We came to a room opposite unto the 
cloister, whence she, coming on the other side of the 
grate betwixt us, singing so extremely well that neither 
my lord ambassador nor his lady, who were there pres- 
ent, could find as much as a word of fitting language to 
return her for the extraordinary music she gave us; when 
I, being ashamed that she should go back without some 
testimony of the sense we had both of the harmony of her 
beauty and her voice, said in Italian: 'Moria pur quando 
vuol , non bisogna mutar ni voce ni facia per essen un 
angelo ' — (Die whensoever you will, you will neither need 
to change voice nor face to be an angel). These words, 
it seemed, were fatal; for going thence to Rome and re- 
turning shortly afterward I heard she was dead in the 
mean time." Cheney also went on to Rome from Parma, 
but did not "return shortly afterward," finding the great 
city so fascinating. "One here in Rome," he writes, 
"feels himself lost in a wilderness of art; go where he 
will he is surrounded with the accumulated riches of 
ages. The wonderfully beautiful works of Raphael were 
enough for the study of a life-time, though one may at 
first be repulsed by the dry and hard manner in which 
some of his most beautiful works are done, yet the in- 
imitable simplicity of the design will, in the end, carry 
him irresistibly away. The recollection of them, I am 
persuaded, will have an influence upon whatever I may 
do hereafter, the impression can never be effaced which 
they make." This was true; and the crayon heads that he 
drew in Boston in 1841-2, and for years afterward, show 
the effect of his training in divine simplicity under the 
influence of the best Italian art. He knew that it was 
better to do a little thing well than to attempt more, in 
which he might fail; if it be a little thing, as I doubt, to 
draw such masterly heads as Cheney could. He gave up 
engraving in 1841, went to Boston and took a studio on 
Cornhill, where he starved for a while, and then sudden- 
ly became prosperous and the fashion in Boston, by rea- 
son of his beautiful art. "I am very busy now," he writes 
to John Cheney, January 18, 1842, --"have under way and 
engaged work to the amount of $700, and coming thicker 



28 



and faster every day. Mothers have got crazy about their 
children. The greater number of my commissions are for 
children and boys and girls, -- beautiful girls. This is ex- 
cellent study for me, besides being very agreeable." Ten 
days later, the struggle with poverty being over, he wrote 
again to his brother, giving some hint of it. "When I came 
here, I had little more than $5 in my pocket, and for nearly 
two months I received nothing for what I had done; so I got 
drained down to the last sixpence, which for three weeks 
lay solitary and alone in my pocket, (I dared not even go 
to the post-office), and at last spent three cents of it for 
charcoal to begin a head for which I got $10, which I was 
obliged immediately to spend for charcoal to keep me 
warm . And so I was obliged to live on from hand to mouth, 
board bills in arrears and clothes ragged, and beginning 
to grow sick at heart, and think it a losing business, and 
wish I had not risked; but I gradually began to get my head 
out of water, and now, if I had nerves enough left, I sup- 
pose I might make a fortune, for no one could wish a bet- 
ter prospect than I have now." His prices for a crayon 
head were then from $10 to $50. "There is an exquisite 
beauty," says his biographer, "in these early portraits, 
unsurpassed even by the work of his later life, in per- 
ception of character and spiritual grace. His execution 
was free and delicate, and it seemed as if his spirit had 
breathed itself into form on the paper." From 1841 to 
1843, when he returned to Europe, he drew 150 heads, 
in the families of Putnam, Lowell, Jackson, Higginson, 
Gray, Forbes, Appleton, Bowditch, Perkins, Winthrop, 
Lawrence, Ward, Dixwell, Goddard, etc. , --and his ac- 
quaintance in Boston became extensive. His sympathies 
were with the transcendentalists; he went to the conver- 
sations of Alcott, the lectures of Emerson, the sermons 
of Parker and W. H. Channing. Later in life he drew the 
portraits of Parker and his wife, now in the Boston public 
library, and was to have drawn Emerson in 1854, but ill- 
health and occupations prevented, and it was left for Rowse 
to make the crayon head which has been engraved. He 
once had an appointment to draw Daniel Webster, but this 
also failed, by no means to Cheney's regret, "because he 
shrank from the effort to render a character so oppres- 
sively powerful, and out of his special range of sympa- 
thies." He felt the character of his sitters keenly and 
refused to draw certain persons; of one he said: "It is 
impossible to make a portrait of her; she does not put 
her character into her face." Of another, "I can't draw 
her, --she has neither the wrinkles of age nor the beauty 
of youth." No artist more truly idealized his sitters, al- 
ways, says Mrs. Cheney, "giving the noblest and best 
expression"; that is, he was an optimist or transcenden- 
talist in art, as Emerson is in literature. "You draw in 
crayon like Cheney," was once said to Rowse, who suc- 
ceeded him as the Boston favorite in this style. "I draw in 
crayon, but not like Cheney; nobody draws like Cheney." 

Mrs. Cheney, herself a disciple of Alcott, Emerson 
and Margaret Fuller, says, "He worked in Boston during 
the period of transcendentalism, and his portraits of the 
men and women of that day preserve for us the spirit of 
that inspired epoch, when liberality of thought and enthu- 
siasm for culture were added to that moral intensity which 
animated reforms." Her memoir of her husband does in 
fact recall that period vividly, and the copies she gives 
of a few of Cheney's crayons are so good that we wish 



for more. The "Rosalie," in particular, his little niece 
at the age of two years (one of his best works), is admi- 
rably reproduced. The author's own task is a labor of 
love, well performed, --it might well have been extend- 
ed to make a larger book, --but thus escapes the common 
fault of biographies, to be too long. It is finely printed, 
and published by Lee & Shepard. 



(15) 
JONES VERY AND AMERICAN POETRY IN GENERAL 

A memorial meeting held in Salem last winter in hon- 
or of Jones Very (the one poet of that city, unless we call 
Hawthorne poet instead of novelist), has given birth to a 
thin pamphlet in which various good things are said con- 
cerning Very and American literature in general. There 
is the natural exaggeration attending all such celebra- 
tions- -that they lift their special object into a position of 
transient glory which cannot be maintained for him after- 
ward, and which led Mr. Silsbee on that occasion to say, 
and since to print these words: 'Very's sensibility is 
what makes him — devout sensibility. It has never been 
excelled; perhaps never equaled. He is as near to God 
as anybody ever was. Fra Angelico is the only man with 
a gift of beauty who is like him . Mystics do not always 
have it. These two men are artists superadded." After 
this it is easy to understand why Mr. Silsbee also says, 
"The American loves the superlative." For while we may 
admit that the devout sensibility of Jones Very has never 
been excelled, perhaps never equaled in Salem , we must 
doubt whether the world has not often paralleled and some- 
times surpassed him in that quality, --as was certainly 
done when George Herbert and Henry Vaughan were in it. 
Again with his superlative, but this time a disparaging 
one, Mr. Silsbee says: "The whole American poetry is 
not equal to one great English poet, and would not be 
missed if lost to-morrow. Our poetry is in a hopeless 
minor key, --has pleasing notes, no new harmony; has 
never displayed a new phase of imaginative feeling, and 
an accompanying freshness of form. It is not a great 
part of literature, --hardly a brick to put into the edifice 
of English poetic literature, --we think not one. He is a 
poet who stands for something distinctively his own, and 
cannot be missed. Now Very, in his fine way, comes as 
near to this as anybody. It is but a note, a very little 
note, but it is a note contributed to English literature." 

There is a certain truth in this, as there is in most of 
the random ejaculations and unstrung beads of criticism 
contributed now and then by men like Mr. Silsbee; but 
let not our American poets take this hard sentence too 
much to heart. Man proposes and God disposes in poetry 
as well as in other things--and it requires a certain dis- 
tance before we can say with assurance that any particu- 
lar poet has added something to literature . The parable 
of the widow's mite has a meaning in this connection also; 
for the muse will reject the millionaires and stockbrokers 
of literature, and accept with thanks the farthing of some 
poet who only survives by a single song. So, as Words- 
worth says: 

Let the young lambs bound 
As to the tabor's sound, 



29 



let the new poets be as frisky as they please, --publish 
their verses and claim our admiration. The muse well 
knows her own, and none of us can tell what will certain- 
ly survive. An extreme popularity is generally fatal to 
a new poet, but not always, for Byron outlived it. 



(16) 
EMERSON AND DISRAELI COMPARED 

There is much to be said in favor of comparisons and 
biographic parallels, though the proverb denounces com- 
parisons as odious, and the critic laughs at Plutarch's 
elaborate pairing off one Greek against one Roman hero. 
But in this world of time and space we must of necessity 
measure one thing by another. In liquids and solids and 
the dimension of surfaces we can take an established quart 
pot, pound weight or yard stick, --but by what common 
standard will you measure wit and wisdom, or the expan- 
sive force of the imagination? There is a sort of critical 
philosophy which aims at the general mensuration of intel- 
lect by certain fixed rules, --but this always reminds me 
of Butler's wiseacre: 

For he by geometric scale 
Could take the size of pots of ale, 
Resolve by sines and tangents straight 
If bread or butter wanted weight, 
And wisely tell what hour o* the day 
The clock does strike by algebra. 

Let us then put into the scales, man against man, -- 
Mr. Guernsey's Emerson and the wit and wisdom of Dis- 
raeli, as they appear in the volumes just issued by Apple- 
ton. The English statesman, novelist and orator shines 
forth in a fine volume with an earl's coronet, a castled es- 
cutcheon and a Latin legend on the cover, --but for all that 
we must treat him as plain Benjamin the Hebrew, whose 
father was a book-worm and a very inaccurate gossiping 
writer. Mr. Emerson is ushered forth by his editor in a 
smaller volume, in plainer guise, without motto, or coat- 
of-arms, --though his escutcheon is far older than Lord 
Beaconsfield's, and his legend (Fidem servabo) is of a 
higher mood than the proud boast of the Jewish earl, Forti 
nihil difficile . The outward show of the two men in these 
books is typical of their characters, --Disraeli, pushing 
and ostentatious, though plucky enough and so witty that 
he could never have remained obscure, --Emerson, mod- 
est yet proud, advancing as the inner spirit led him, but 
without herald or flourish of trumpets . He is a Cromwell 
of the spiritual realm, without the tyranny and artifice, 
but by no means without the humorous sagacity of Crom- 
well: 

Who from his private gardens where 
He lived reserved and austere, 
(As if his highest plot 
To plant the bexgamot), 
Could by industrious valor climb 
To ruin the great work of time, 
And cast the kingdom old 
Into another mold. 



Disraeli also had plenty of this "industrious valor," and 
has shaped things to another mold in the political world, 
once and again; but it may be doubted if what he did is to 
have any serious, permanent results. He has made his 
voyages and brought his vessel and his fortunes through 
many a storm and squall, but he has sometimes thrown 
his cargo, and now and then his crew, overboard; and 
when he made his last port, little remained unchanged 
except the atrocious mind of this singular Cato of the 
English aristocracy. Everything had been transformed, 
as in a masquerade, --the tories were free-traders and 
extenders of the suffrage, the English landlords and the 
Irish members were in coalition, the queen was empress 
of India and Mr. Cogan's dissenting academy at Waltham- 
stow had furnished Beaconsfield with a landowner more 
famous than Burke, and more powerful than John Hamp- 
den. 

In the long voyage of Emerson, on the other hand, the 
same compass and the same captain have guided every 
course. The short log-book records this entry, made 
many years ago and since entered on the sailing direc- 
tions of other mariners, 

It is time to be old 
To take in sail: 

As the bird trims her to the gale 

I trim myself to the storm of time, 
I man the rudder, reef the sail, 

Obey the voice at eve obeyed at prime; 
Lowly faithful, banish fear, 

Right onward drive unharmed; 
The port, well worth the cruise, is near, 

And every wave is charmed . 

The fleet in which Disraeli sailed was a more numerous 
and imposing one than the small venture with which Car- 
lyle and Emerson put to sea, and the flag- ship of a high 
admiral is apt to be more conspicuous than the pinnace 
of a discoverer. But judged by the compass of the voyage 
and the freight carried, Emerson's expedition already ap- 
pears of more consequence to mankind than that of the 
late Lord Beaconsfield. And this I say not undervaluing 
as so many do, the remarkable achievements of that man 
in literature, which has for its only parallel his own suc- 
cess in political life. Disraeli may not hold a prominent, 
or even a permanent rank among English writers, but the 
history of what he attempted and what he did will always 
be interesting; since he carried along, on even terms 
with his parliamentary and administrative success, that 
career as a novelist which to most persons would have 
seemed in advance a fatal disqualification for political 
life. He not only wrote novels, but he wrote satirical 
and personal and, in a certain sense, grotesque novels; 
while English parliamentary ambition discards all such 
hindrances. That they were for a time hindrances to 
Disraeli is manifest; and they never became positive 
promoters of his advancement, yet he advanced in spite 
of them, and at best in consequence of them, or of the 
manifold power that they implied . 

The editor of Lord Beaconsfield's "Wit and Wisdom," 
who does not give his name, has an easy task before him 



30 



in making selections that will please the present surprised 
and delighted generation of Englishmen who have been daz- 
zled by the varied successes of the late prime minister. 
Even those to whom his nature and character are odious, 
as to thousands and perhaps millions of Englishmen and 
Americans they are, do not now insist so strongly upon 
their prepossession against him as they did while he was 
living to provoke them by fresh sallies of his wit and fresh 
moral surprises, or turns of cheerful malignity. His edi- 
tor rather presumes on this tolerant state of mind when he 
quotes the shallow taunt uttered by Disraeli against Glad- 
stone in a speech of 1878, "A sophistical rhetorician in- 
ebriated with the exuberance of his own verbosity, and 
gifted with an egotistical imagination that can at all times 
command an interminable and inconsistent series of argu- 
ments, to malign an opponent, and to glorify himself." 
This does not describe Gladstone, of course, except super- 
ficially, while it is a more intimate description of Disraeli 
himself—except that his "inebriation" is always under his 
own control, and rather resembles good acting than genu- 
ine drunkenness of verbosity. But the book contains so 
much that is brilliant, along with so much that was bril- 
liant, but has lost its gloss with time, that it will please 
even those who detest the author, and criticise the anony- 
mous editor. It hardly includes the strongest passages of 
Disraeli's eloquence, or the chief evidences of his wisdom, 
but it sparkles with wit, and with both kinds of malice--the 
French and the English variety. Of deeper thinking, or 
rather, of deeper sentiment - -for Disraeli seldom rose to 
the high level of profound thought- -there are also some 
examples, not always borrowed from Burke or other Eng- 
lish oracles, but drawn from his own national Jacob's well, 
or caught from the solemn Hebrew oracles, which on his 
lips often had the air of imposture or mystification. "All 
these great philosophers," he says, "agree in one thing- - 
that in their investigations there is an inevitable term 
where they meet the insoluble, where all the most tran- 
scendent powers of intellect dissipate and disappear. Here 
commences the religious principle. It is universal, and it 
will assert its universal influence in the government of 
man." 

This passage, from one of Disraeli's speeches in Par- 
liament will serve as the introduction to what now occurs 
to me to say about Mr. Guernsey's book of selections from 
Emerson, who has always recognized more seriously than 
Disraeli this universal religious principle, and found it 
interfered with the formation of any methodical system of 
philosophy. Mr. Guernsey makes the attempt, as so many 
have done and will do, to understand and interpret Emer- 
son's philosophy; and though he arrays with much intelli- 
gence the passages which contain it, and rejects some of 
the old twaddle about its "pantheism," he does not seem to 
have found the key to it. He insists, too, on performing, 
now and then, the exhibition which Lowell laughs at in his 
conclusion of the "Fable for Critics": 

'Tis delightful to see, when a man comes along 
Who has anything in him peculiar and strong, 
Every cockboat that swims clears its fierce (pop) 

gundeck at him, 
And makes, as he passes, his ludicrous peck at him. 

It seems unkind, now I have written it, to apply this 
quotation to so favorable an editor as Mr. Guernsey. But 



what are we to say of a critic who in commenting on Em- 
erson's utterance, "The law of gravitation is identical with 
purity of thought," says: "The theory is not warranted by 
the facts, as known to us, or as far as we can understand 
it, knowable by us. To say that the law of gravitation is 
identical with purity of heart, is to our mind as inapt as 
it would be to affirm that a mile is as long as an hour, or 
that a convincing argument is as weighty as the mass of 
the globe." Yes, and the old lady in the story looked out 
of her window and said: "What a beautiful night! and the 
moon makes it as light as a feather!" Such is the degree 
of illumination which at intervals Mr. Guernsey sheds on 
his author. But then he has read Emerson and has woven 
together with some accuracy, though with no very intimate 
knowledge, the outward events of the poet's life, so that 
his volume will be a real help to those who are to read 
Emerson for the first time or who may wish to review 
what he has been writing all these 50 years. A special 
acknowledgment is due to Mr. Guernsey for the pages he 
has quoted from "Nature," the earliest, and yet perhaps 
the least read of all Mr. Emerson's books. 

No presentation of what Emerson has written can be 
quite complete, which does not take into account what he 
has in common with his senior contemporary, Alcott, and 
his junior, Thoreau. It has been a common delusion of 
the philistines that these two arch-transcendentalists only 
borrowed from Emerson, or, at any rate, shone by his 
light, --while in fact they shared with him the common im- 
pulse which, 50 years ago, made so many young men and 
maidens transcendentalists . Nay, more, they both gave 
and received in their friendly intercourse with Emerson, 
and it is Alcott quite as much as Emerson, who speaks in 
the words of "my Orphic poet" in the final chapter of "Na- 
ture," to this effect: "The foundations of man are not in 
matter, but in spirit. But the element of spirit is eter- 
nity. In the cycle of the universal man, from whom the 
known individuals proceed, centuries are points, and all 
history is but the epoch of one degradation. ... A man is 
a god in ruins. When men are innocent, life shall be long- 
er, and he shall pass into the immortal as gently as he 
awoke from dreams. . . . Infancy is the perpetual Messiah, 
which comes into the arms of fallen men and pleads with 
them to return to paradise. Man is the dwarf of himself. 
Once he was permeated and dissolved by spirit. He filled 
nature with his overflowing currents. Out from him sprang 
the sun and the moon; from man the sun, from woman the 
moon. The laws of his mind, the periods of his actions 
externalized themselves into day and night, into the year 
and the seasons. But, having made for himself this huge 
shell, his waters retired; he no longer fills the veins and 
veinlets; he is shrunk to a drop. He sees that the struc- 
ture still fits him, but fits him colossally. Say rather, 
once it fitted him, now it corresponds to him from far 
and on high. He adores timidly his own work. Now is 
man the follower of the sun and woman of the moon. Yet 
sometimes he starts in his slumber, and wonders at him- 
self and his house, and muses strangely at the resem- 
blance between him and it. He perceives that if his law 
is still paramount, if he still have elemental power, it 
is not conscious power; it is not inferior but superior to 
his will. It is 'Instinct.'" "Thus," said Emerson, "my 
Orphic poet sang," and then he proceeds to expound this 
riddle a little. But it is still a problem for all who call 
themselves philosophers, and do not aspire to be poets. 



31 



(17) 
WALT WHITMAN, 



A KOSMOS 



To make a mark on the sands of life in this busiest, 
windiest and most tidal period of the world's history, 
and to keep that mark fresh and deepening for seven-and- 
twenty years, is no little achievement for an American 
author. This Whitman has done, and something more than 
this. When in 1855 he printed with his own hands his odd 
and sprawling lines of his "Leaves of Grass" (a few cop- 
ies, long since out of print, though hardly any one bought 
them), he announced himself to the world as a poet, and 
he has never since taken down his sign. He still carries 
on business at the old stand; still "sounds his barbaric 
yawp over the roofs of the world." But now instead of six 
readers he has six thousand, or perhaps six hundred thou- 
sand and the back counties have not all been heard from 
yet. That they understand him we would not guarantee-- 
he does not understand himself always; still less did he 
understand himself when he began to write. He put to sea 
on a raft and his only compass was a looking-glass, but he 
has made as good a voyage on the whole as if he had sailed 
in the Great Eastern with all the compasses and chronom- 
eters and astronomers on board . 

Were it the will of heaven, an osier bough 
Were vessel strong enough the seas to plow. 

So said Pindar, only more shortly, and Whitman has veri- 
fied the oracle. Courage and trust are the best outfit for 
a poet, it seems; they are worth all the colleges and li- 
braries in the world. The world itself is the poet's li- 
brary, and Whitman has had a card to that collection; he 
has even attempted a catalogue; but like all library cata- 
logues it grows beyond his power to list and index. 

There is a lawless saying, fit only for the wise, but 
full of meaning for poets and great captains , 

Oft have I heard, and deem the witness true, 
Whom man delights in, God delights in too. 

But the career of pleasure and admiration which is only 
possible to power soon finds its limits in human experi- 
ence, and must be corrected by the sharp lessons of sor- 
row and mortification, --must be continued, if at all, by 
the completest self-renunciation and trust in the unseen 
powers. This discipline Whitman has had, it would seem, 
and has profited by it. His later poems are not quite in 
the key of his earlier; they have a more serious and re- 
ligious tone; and their light is thrown back on the danger- 
ous utterances of his youth. He has not rejected these ut- 
terances, --has indeed preserved most of them in this new 
volume, --but has softened them, changed their connection 
and brought them into a better accord with a life of service 
to mankind, such as the poet's must be if he would live be- 
yong his own age. Consequently this book will be received, 
we fancy, as none of Whitman's former books have been. 
It will no longer be a work prohibited, but, in spite of 
many passages which must always keep it from a famil- 
iar place on the table, and from the perfect liberty of un- 
formed judgments, --it will find its way into all good li- 
braries and into many homes . For the civil war made 
Whitman a domestic poet, which he had hardly been be- 



fore. The clear recognition and pathetic portrayal of the 
home affection in the Americans, not less than their pa- 
triotism and devotion to democracy, gives "Drum Taps" 
an affectionate place in the hearts of his readers. The 
philosophy of "Leaves of Grass" was oriental, --grand, 
but peculiar, and to the multitude either irreligious or 
suspicious, --but this was changed in the war-poems into 
a spirit which the multitude could understand, because 
they shared it, --which, indeed, was born of the multitude 
and possessed Whitman as one of the many, not as among 
the few. Another change noticeable in him at that time 
and since affected his meter and the melody of his verse. 
The measure of the old chapters in "Leaves of Grass" 
can hardly be called a meter at all; what rhythm it had 
was rather like the rhythm of Hebrew poetry, in the an- 
tithesis or repetition of ideas, not in the harmonious ar- 
rangement of words. But it would seem as if the music 
of the regiments : 

Sonorous metal blowing martial sound, 

had suggested to Whitman a new movement for his lines. 
They soon became measured and choral in their char- 
acter, --not a set measure, like the tweedle-de-dum , 
tweedle-de-dee of the mediocre poets, but a dithyrambic 
orchestral movement, responding to chords struck at ir- 
regular intervals, and leaving the mind free to catch up 
the next strain, wherever it might come in. This in part 
is the secret of the Greek chorus -poetry, to which (though 
the Greek measures are more balanced and mutually re- 
sponsive) the war pieces of Whitman, and much of his 
later poetry, bears a strong resemblance. The book 
deserves study even as a metrical anomaly, were it not 
entitled to consideration upon much higher regards. 

Lofty as any sound estimate of Whitman's book must 
be, it has faults enough to have long ago destroyed the 
reputation of any writer who had not something better 
than singularity to commend him. Concerning these, as 
well as for a larger consideration of his work and place, 
we shall take another time to speak. Here we say only 
that the book is a noble one, and must be so adjudged be- 
fore any proper discount upon its merits can be made. 



(18) 
A CRITIQUE ON LONGFELLOW 

The death of the poet Longfellow has awakened a quick 
utterance of sympathy over the world. The English pa- 
pers have repeated their old praises of him, and, so far 
as the cable tells us, only one of them has described him 
falsely as "America's greatest literary son." He, with 
his unaffected modesty, never so esteemed himself, and 
no careful critic, respecting not merely the canons of 
taste but the poet's own fame, would call him so. It is 
the English fashion to do it for two reasons, --one that 
he was almost the first of American writers to catch the 
ear of England; the other and later reason is that such 
an attribution would restrict our literature to a certain 
level of excellence which without doubt has been far ex- 
ceeded by others of our authors. 

Mr. Longfellow had a true and noble poetic purpose, 
which he fulfilled. He was not an enthusiast for any one 



32 



cause, but he had his aim fixed on the great family, to 
reach the feeling of men and women, aye, and children, 
so that they should find his verses household words, in- 
spired with encouragement in urgent need, touched with 
sympathy in daily experience, and satisfying with conso- 
lation in defeat and sorrow. 

Longfellow was often called a plagiarist, --Poe set the 
fashion and there have been many to follow the lead of that 
keen, cruel and unjust critic. He was a plagiarist in the 
same sense that Shakespeare was, --he gathered the for- 
gotten and the trite and clad them with charms of language 
and embellishments of fancy. No one now regards such a 
charge as of any importance, for genius is recognized as 
a master that may seize its material by right of eminent 
domain wherever it may find it. But 30 and more years 
ago it was held of great consequence, and unwise friends 
would rush into print to defend their poets. It was in the 
latter part of this period that Punch did an excellent thing 
in a mock exhibition of the plagiarism of Alexander Smith. 
In opposition to Mr. Smith's frequent mention of stars, 
Punch quoted "Twinkle, twinkle, little star," and so on; 
and the burlesque certainly helped readers to distinguish 
between real plunder and the use of the common stock of 
thought, or the borrowing of a suggestion for the purpose 
of enrichment and higher inspiration. Longfellow could 
return all that he ever borrowed to other writers of verse 
and to the commonplace books of the last century, and 
those writers would remain as unknown as now, and those 
copy-books as useless, while without their petty contribu- 
tions he would remain a true poet. 

There is a great variety in this poet's work, yet he has 
not written anything without the charm that indicates poet- 
ry. He has never been a sloven in his verse; while at the 
same time he has never wandered in search of mechanical 
elaboration as the fashion has been since Swinburne scared 
the whole guild of English writers by his exhaustive gym- 
nastics with the entire resources of the language. But 
while the tremendous artifice of Swinburne will inevitably 
pall on the ear and finally sink into the half-forgotten abyss 
of curiosities, Longfellow's pure and simple melody will 
live in perennial freshness, because it is sweet, unaffect- 
ed, genuine, --and beyond all, because it conveys noble 
messages instead of ignoble. 

It is in this point that Longfellow stands armed against 
any captious assault. His soul was as clean as a child's 
through his whole life, and yet nowhere devoid of manly 
strength and fellowship. The work he did is the transcript 
of his nature to an extraordinary degree. Pure, inspiring 
purity and rebuking grossness of life, like Arthur in his 
Round Table, was Longfellow. This has been a common 
characteristic of all our elder poets, of Bryant-- 'the mas- 
ter of us all," as Stoddard calls him; of Emerson, Whit- 
tier, Holmes, Lowell, Bayard Taylor, Parsons. These 
have not only avoided coarseness and open sensuality, but 
they have not borne that insinuation of evil which is so 
common among the younger writers of the day. The same 
decadence is more noticeable and far lower in England as 
here. From Tennyson to Swinburne, from Browning to 
Dante Rossetti is a great descent. And in the next young- 
er poets we behold an array of boys trying verbal gymnas- 
tics in rondeaux, ballads, etc. In this country there is as 
yet less artifice, but there is also less sign of any genius 
at all. 



There arise in our political horizon no poetic stars 
of great magnitude . We have an abundance of men and 
women who sometimes strongly, sometimes daintily, 
strike the lyre of song, but it is a grave question wheth- 
er our first poetic era be not now at an end, and its suc- 
cessor not yet dawned. The spontaneous note is lacking 
among our songsters. There [is] a good deal of fine sing- 
ing, but it is singing that has been learned in school, and 
very imperfectly understood. It would be invidious to 
mention the names of the youngest men, who may sudden- 
ly outburst in something new and worthy. There are yet 
those who survive to set a great example: Holmes and 
Whittier and their juniors, Lowell and Stoddard, --the 
last mentioned a poet of pure beauty not surpassed since 
Keats; and Parsons, who writes too little for a poet of so 
fine quality, and who rests his fame securely on his trans- 
lation of Dante, which still engages his labors. Stedman 
has sunk the bard in the critic of late, --to the great ad- 
vantage of criticism; Aldrich and Howells and Lathrop 
have become novelists; Boyle O'Reilly has allowed the 
editor to wreck the poet; and Walt Whitman stands alone; 
great, incomparable and unfollowed. The score or more 
of younger men seem given over to fantasies and humors 
and poisoned by egotism. This last fault seems hopeless. 
What can be done with a lot of youth who regard their per- 
sonal feelings as the supreme subject of their verse, and 
drag their morbid notions into every phase of thought, 
study of outer nature, or picture of human life? How 
free from this dragging personality was Longfellow, -- 
how far above this low self-consciousness, even in his 
deepest emotional poems . He never became the center 
of the poetic thought, for he was greater than his sole 
experience. 



(19) 
THE DEATH AND BURIAL OF EMERSON 

It seems to be the rule that Concord poets shall die in 
spring, and be buried when the blossoms and birds may 
take part in the funeral obsequies. Emerson, in this as 
in everything else, the foremost man, has departed a 
little earlier in the soft season than Thoreau and Haw- 
thorne did, and so was not buried in May, like them, but 
at the very threshold of the season which he had himself 
pictured in "May Days" and other poems of his spring- 
loving muse. In a vision of spring he then said: 

I looked forth on the fields of youth, -- 
I saw fair forms bestriding steeds, 
I knew their forms in fancy weeds, 
Long, long concealed by sundering fates. 
Mates of my youth --yet not my mates, 
Stronger and bolder far than I, - - 
With grace, with genius well attired, 
And then as now from far admired, -- 

Followed with love 

They knew not of. 

With passion cold and shy. 

O joy, for what recoveries rare! 

Renewed, I breathe Elysian air, 

See youth's glad mates in earliest bloom, -- 



33 



Break not my dream, obtrusive tomb! 
Or teach thou, Spring! the grand recoil 
Of life resurgent from the soil 
Whereon was dropt the mortal spoil. 

This has been the lesson of Emerson's death and burial, 
in which there was less sadness and greater hope of im- 
mortality than in most events of the kind. He had rounded 
and finished a life of great beauty, and his short illness, 
so little burdensome to those whom he dreaded to burden 
with the care of him, was as characteristic of him as any 
part of his career. He had always made it a point of honor 
not to be ill in other people's houses, unwilling as he was 
in all things to give trouble to others, and when his own 
house became strange to him, in the gentle bewilderment 
of his mind, he hastened to leave it for another mansion 
long ago prepared for him. It was as if he had said, like 
Oliver Cromwell in his last illness, "It is not my design to 
drink or sleep, but my design is to make what haste I can 
to be gone." He suffered little except the last day or two, 
and even then the presence of a dear friend would recall 
to his eyes the beautiful smile that had distinguished him 
among all mankind: 

I trow that countenance cannot lie 
Whose thoughts are legible in the eye, 

a phrase that recalled to those who heard it read at his 
funeral the wonderful sweetness of language that spoke 
from his eyes. The services at his funeral were cordial 
and sympathetic rather than commensurate with the great- 
ness of the man they praised and lamented; but there has 
been no lack of tribute to his character, and there will be 
none hereafter. Though so old himself — almost 79- -two 
of his companions still older (Dr. Furness who is 80 and 
Mr. Alcott who is well advanced in his 83d year) took an 
active part at his funeral. His bearers were all young or 
middle-aged men- -one of them his grandson, and nearly 
all his kinsmen. His roll of friends was a very long one, 
and most of those who thronged the church in such num- 
bers were either friends or acquaintances. He was fa- 
miliarly known to his townsmen, children and all, --not- 
withstanding the distance that his genius placed between 
him and them, --a distance that they felt when he did not. 
No such man was ever more modest, or claimed less of 
the world on which he had conferred so many benefactions. 
I see that The Republican, like most of the newspapers, 
has printed Mr. Alcott's sonnet, which he read with a no- 
ble effect at the funeral. This sonnet was composed by 
Mr. Alcott two days after his friend's death, and has been 
added by his publishers to the new edition of the "Sonnets 
and Canzonets" with two mottoes prefixed- -the first from 
the Greek epitaph of Bion by the Dorian poet Moschus, and 
the other from Milton's "Lycidas." The four Greek hex- 
ameter lines that Mr. Alcott there quotes, when translat- 
ed, run thus: 

Where, by Sicilian Arethusa's springs, 
Each sister nightingale in covert sings, 
Bear the sad tidings on thy heavy wings; 

Bion is dead! our Shepherd sings no more, -- 
Forever mute the echoes of this shore :-- 
Perished with him, the Dorian lay is o'er. 



The other motto, from Milton is this: 

But Oh! the heavy change now thou art gone, — 
Now thou art gone and never must return! 
Thee, Shepherd, thee the woods and desert caves. 
With wild thyme and the gadding vine o'er grown, 

And all their echoes mourn, 

The willows and the hazel copses green 

Shall now no more be seen 

Fanning their joyous leaves to thy soft lays. 

There is a peculiar fitness in these selections as in all 
those with which Mr. Alcott has graced his book; one of 
these, ascribed to some Persian poet, might be applied 
to Emerson: "One knocked at the beloved's door, and a 
voice asked from within, Who is there? And he answered, 
It is I. Then the voice said, This house will not hold me 
and thee, and the door was not opened. Then went the 
lover into the desert, and fasted and prayed in solitude. 
And after a year he returned, and knocked again at the 
door. And again the voice asked, Who is there? and he 
said, It is thyself. And the door was opened to him." 

There will be plenty of eulogies on the poet-philoso- 
pher's life, and attempts to analyze the nature of his 
genius and the charm of his character and his book, but 
analysis is strongly at fault when applied to him. Who 
would undertake to make logical propositions out of the 
hyperbolical image of religious love contained in the 
parable just quoted? Yet this would be easy compared 
with the task of defining and explaining Emerson. As 
one of his friends used to say, "To define is to confine." 
At the school of philosophy next summer, however, -- 
July 22 is the day fixed upon--10 or 12 of the philosophers 
and poets, who knew him and have studied his works, will 
attempt to portray what he was, --while two or three of 
the lectures in the regular course of 45 will be given to 
some phases of Emerson's work. . . . 

The death of Emerson, while it removes one of the 
chief lights of the Concord school of thought, will for the 
present only bring into greater prominence the literature 
of that town. The correspondence and other unpublished 
writings of Emerson will after a while be printed, and, in 
the interval, the public will read again the volumes al- 
ready published, and the interesting biography of Emer- 
son by Mr . Cooke . Other biographies will soon follow; 
and the lives of other men will connect themselves with 
this subject. The two next volumes in Houghton's series 
of "Men of Letters, "--lives of Thoreau and George Rip- 
ley- -will necessarily contain much that bears on Emer- 
son and the transcendental period. A new edition of Mr. 
Alcott's books will soon be called for, --the favor which 
his sonnets have found stimulating inquiry for his prose 
volumes, and for the rural poem, "New Connecticut," 
which was privately printed last summer. New editions 
of Theodore Parker's books will also appear from time 
to time, as there is a demand for them, and there may 
even be a revival and not merely a survival of the tran- 
scendental literature. The world is getting a little fa- 
tigued with the cameo-cutting, genre -painting, and cari- 
caturing which has occupied literary artists for some 
years, and is ready to go back to a freer and wholesomer 
style . 



34 



(20) 

NEWMAN AND THE TRANSCENDENTALISTS 

John Henry Newman is the hero of these Reminiscences 
[by Thomas Mozley], far more than the reminiscent him- 
self- -and, though his friend and brother-in-law, did not 
compliment Newman with "the sincere flattery of imita- 
tion" to the extent of going into a monastery and coming 
out a Catholic, and so, finally, a cardinal. Mozley did 
follow Newman very far, and in 1843, before Newman was 
ready to leave the English church, Mozley wrote to him 
that he was going to do so. Newman advised him to wait 
two years, reflect upon the whole matter and then act. 
Mozley waited and reflected, and concluded to stay where 
he was . The last part of the second volume of this book, 
in which he states the case for and against the Catholic 
church, is a model of whimsical fairness and crotchety 
common sense; but the arguments, like Abraham Lin- 
coln's, lead away from the course that the reasoner final- 
ly took. Newman's own career after 1843 is not set forth 
in this work, and perhaps the author means to go on with 
it to 130 more chapters—for so many does this book con- 
tain. In that case he must give us an index or we shall 
never find the road in and out, or anywhere inside the 
labyrinth. 

But as it stands, it is a good commentary on the early 
stages of the Tractarian or Oxford movement of 1830-45, 
which was such a queer antecedent and counterpart of the 
Transcendental movement in New England. Both sprang 
up among scholars, who had also a religious faith more 
active than that they saw displayed by their contempo- 
raries, --both owed their progress to the personal quali- 
ties of men--in England, like Newman and R. H. Froude, 
and in America, like Emerson, Parker and Alcott; both 
went much further than their first intention. But the tran- 
scendental movement, taking a literary and political turn 
to a much greater degree than did the Oxford movement, 
has produced practical results of the most astonishing 
sort. For what can be more surprising, all things con- 
sidered, than the overthrow of slavery in America and 
of absolutism in Europe, --both of which may be regarded 
as consequences of the profound radicalism of Carlyle, 
Emerson and Victor Hugo, --whom a singular critic in the 
last Atlantic classes together as "almost poets," and then 
declares that 'the world has left them behind and we do 
not believe that it will ever return to them." It has never 
in fact caught up with them, and will not for some time to 
come, --but it has been walking in their paths for 30 or 40 
years, and will do so after the present theories of science 
have been swapped off for new ones, --which happens on 
an average about three times in a hundred years . Dean 
Mozley has some observations, random but piercing, on 
the modern phases of science, whose votaries, he says, 
"only place a little farther off in time and space the prob- 
lems that puzzle an ordinary child. Grant the mighty, 
pregnant, progenative atom, the mustard seed of the 
whole living world. How came the atom here, and whence 
came its powers?. . . There must be something else than 
physical science, if all it tells us is comprised in the sen- 
tence that, whether in space or in time, we are nothing. 
Religion, at all events, makes something of us. It makes 
us the lords of creation and the heirs of immortality." 

One side of the Transcendental movement culminated 



in Henry Thoreau, whose extreme individuality, in the 
last analyses, meant only a falling back (or moving for- 
ward rather) upon the high vantage ground of truth, where 
the battle is to be fought for the whole world, --so that the 
extremely individual, like Thoreau, if he clings to the 
thread of the universe, finds himself at last one with all 
mankind, though it be but for an instant. In the short life 
of Thoreau, which is to appear this week and which I have 
read oftener than anybody else will, I fancy, there is a 
passage so well exhibiting the true Transcendentalist's 
relation to politics as taken by Thoreau and John Brown, 
that I may be pardoned for citing it here. In 1846 Tho- 
reau said: "Any man more right than his neighbors con- 
stitutes a majority of one already. I know this well, that 
if 1000, if 100, if 10 men whom I could name, --if 10 hon- 
est men only, --ay, if one honest man, ceasing to hold 
slaves, were actually to withdraw from this copartner- 
ship, and be locked up in the county jail therefor, it would 
be the abolition of slavery in America. Under a govern- 
ment which imprisons any unjustly the true place for a 
just man is also a prison." This sounded hollow then, but 
when that embodiment of American justice and mercy, 
John Brown, lay bleeding in a Virginia prison a dozen 
years later, the significance of Thoreau's words began 
to be seen; and when a few years after our countrymen 
were dying by hundreds of thousands to complete what 
Brown, with his single life, had begun, the whole truth, 
as Thoreau had seen it, flashed in the eyes of the nation. 
In this same essay of 1846 on "Civil Disobedience" the 
ultimate truth concerning government is stated in a pas- 
sage which also does justice to Daniel Webster. Thoreau 
said: 

"Statesmen and legislators, standing so completely 
within the institution (of government) never distinctly 
and nakedly behold it. They speak of moving society, 
but have no resting place without it. They are wont to 
forget that the world is not governed by policy and ex- 
pediency. Webster never goes behind government, and 
so cannot speak with authority about it. His words are 
wisdom to those legislators who contemplate no essen- 
tial reform in the existing government; but for thinkers, 
and those who legislate for all time, he never once 
glances at the subject. Yet compared with the cheap 
professions of most reformers, and the still cheaper 
wisdom and eloquence of politicians in general, his are 
almost the only sensible and valuable words, and we 
thank heaven for him. Comparatively, he is always 
strong, original, and, above all, practical; still his 
quality is not wisdom, but prudence. Truth is always 
in harmony with herself, and is not concerned chiefly 
to reveal the justice that may consist with wrongdoing. 
For eighteen hundred years the New Testament has been 
written; yet where is the legislator who has wisdom and 
practical talent enough to avail himself of the light which 
it sheds on the science of government?" 

Such a legislator, proclaiming his law from the scaffold, 
at last appeared in John Brown: 

"I see a book kissed here which I suppose to be the 
Bible, or at least the New Testament. That teaches me 
that 'whatsoever I would that men should do unto me, I 



35 



should do even so to them.' It teaches me further to 're- 
member them that are in bonds as bound with them.' I en- 
deavored to act up to that instruction. I say that I am yet 
too young to understand that God is any respecter of per- 
sons. I believe that, to have interfered as I have done in 
behalf of his despised poor, was not wrong, but right." 

Before these simple words of Brown, down went Webster 
and all his industry in behalf of the "compromises of the 
constitution." When Thoreau heard them, and saw the 
matchless behavior of his noble old friend, he recognized 
the hour and the man. "For once," he cried in the church 
vestry at Concord, "we are lifted into the region of truth 
and manhood. No man, in America, has ever stood up so 
persistently and effectively for the dignity of human na- 
ture; knowing himself for a man, and the equal of any and 
all governments. The only government that I recognize- - 
and it matters not how few are at the head of it, or how 
small its army- -is that power which establishes justice 
in the land ." John Burroughs in the July Century speaks 
well on this point. 

The recent tributes to Mrs. Stowe, for which Mrs. 
Claflin furnished so pleasant a foreground, and which 
were brought to a focus by the energy of Mr. Houghton, 
will give interest to the queer way that Dean Mozley, in 
the book above noticed, speaks of her at the time she had 
set the whole world weeping over "Uncle Tom ." It seems 
that the success of her book in England was the ruin of 
many other books of that year, and it is at a London din- 
ner of authors that the quotation begins: "The fact was, 
a terrible blow had just fallen on English literature. This 
was a funeral feast over scores of promising works, born 
to die at once, --some indeed, never to be heard of, but to 
pass straight from the press to the vat. It was the year 
of 'Uncle Tom's Cabin.* All theologies, all the arts and 
sciences, histories, travels, fictions, facts, light litera- 
ture, heavy literature, everything that man can read, per- 
ishes in that fatal blight. Mrs. Beecher Stowe had found 
the Garden of Eden before her, but she left a wilderness 
behind, and in that wilderness I was now sitting down with 
a score of the chief sufferers. I had been absorbed in the 
book, I had shed tears over it, and devoured every line. 
I have never read it a second time, nor did I read any 
other work of Mrs . Beecher Stowe . I went to a reception 
given to her at Willis's rooms, when she seemed to me a 
weird, uncanny creature, more French than English, and 
her husband a remarkably fine specimen of the Anglo- 
Saxon race, and no improvement upon it." This is droll 
enough, and so are a thousand other passages in the en- 
tertaining volumes; but one must not look for all wisdom 
therein. They are published by Houghton, and have more 
of the spirit of old Aubrey than anything lately printed in 
England . 



(21) 
EDWARD EMERSON- --MAN AS DOCTOR 

In the early career of Emerson as a missionary of 
free thought and noble aspiration, --when he went once 
at least to each city and college of New England and blew 
his solitary bugle call, to which here and there a young 
man responded, --but seldom more than once to the col- 



leges, because the professors did not like the music of 
that young knight who always drew the sword before he 
blew the horn; in those years from 1837 to 1842, the 
Concord philosopher had much to say of "Man Thinking," 
"Man the Reformer," etc. He was then between 35 and 
40 years old, and had settled for himself most of the 
questions that beset young men. His son, Dr. Edward 
Emerson, now about the same age, and for some years 
a practicing physician in Concord and the neighboring 
towns, has had his thoughts turned, of necessity, to man 
in another aspect, as doctor and as patient; and he now 
appears as an author for the first time with a very strik- 
ing oration read at Watertown last April, before the dis- 
trict society of South Middlesex physicians, and printed 
along with one of Dr. Holmes's brilliant lectures in a 
Boston medical journal. Dr. Emerson's topic is "The 
Man as Doctor," and it is a general review, from the 
moralist's stand-point, of the profession to which he be- 
longs, with special regard to his own branch, that of 
country doctors in general practice. It was a severe 
test to publish this first essay beside the finished work 
of a veteran in learning and wit, like Dr. Holmes; but 
the younger Emerson's essay stands this test very well, 
being so wholly unlike the lecture of the poet-professor 
as to avoid direct comparison. Like his father, Dr. 
Emerson looks at things in a broad and general light, 
and from the ethical and philosophical ground, --with 
frequent citations, too, from a reading less extensive 
and pertinent, but by no means ordinary. 

Of his profession he says, among other things: "The 
opportunities, the privileges inseparable from our work, 
assert its dignity, and at once claim the attention of every 
worthy member. Yet we are too prone to forget the high- 
er perquisites of our calling. The poor, from the very 
condition of their lives, as we all know, are the persons 
most liable to accident and disease, which cuts off their 
earnings when most needed . Yet we sometimes hear 
physicians speaking as if a personal outrage had been 
done them when these facts are taken into consideration 
and a bill abated or excused . Perhaps we should be more 
grateful than we are that, while others in hard times be- 
gin retrenchment in their charity account, we have the 
privilege of exercising a compulsory charity all the time, 
and then especially." Of the doctor's horse and how to 
use him. Dr. Emerson writes: "The Prophet said to the 
faithful, 'Blessings, success, and rich gain shall be hung 
to the forelock of the horse till the day of resurrection.' 
Edward, Lord Herbert of Cherbury said, 'A good rider 
on a good horse is as much above himself and others as 
the world can make him.' Ride your horse sometimes, 
even at the risk of causing universal hilarity to pervade 
the village street. It is easier to carry fluid extracts in 
a holster than it was for the fathers to carry bark and 
leaves by the pound in their saddle-bags. A small port- 
manteau behind the saddle will hold forceps and specula, 
you can go by new and adventurous paths through woods 
and on turf, instead of being, like a locomotive, a slave 
to the graded road . When you know how, riding will be 
easier for the horse and warmer for you than the open 
buggy, or the sleigh, if the snow be deep. If you drive, 
by no means have a sulky, and when you can, carry a 
friend (not a sick one). . . . The adventurous old doctor 
is still talked of in this neighborhood who drove on the 



36 



ice, now on the meadow, now on the river, to the remote 
farm, until he and his horse ran a race with the thaw. His 
neighbors said that his horses ran away with him; he had 
never found it out, nor had one that would run faster than 
he was willing to travel." This was old Dr. Bartlett, Dr. 
Emerson's predecessor, of whom so many good stories 
are current in his circuit. 

Concerning one deep pitfall of the medical clan- -the 
foolish habit of infallibility, Dr. Emerson says very sen- 
sibly: "To be non-committal, or more, may be wise and 
legitimate; but, on the other hand, a habit of mystery may 
be formed which is dangerous to the physician, and makes 
him much less trusted and depended on than should be his 
right. It must also be remembered that the tendency to 
mystery is the time -honored badge of quackery. The 
'wizards that peep and mutter* cannot, with intelligent 
patients, stand comparison with the blunt and honest doc- 
tor. He holds the strong and dignified position. Fear of 
being deposed from the throne of infallibility is a strong 
temptation to petty and unworthy deceit that often over- 
leaps itself. Is not dogmatism as well as carelessness a 
mental tendency of the physician as well as of the clergy- 
man, resulting from our encountering other minds that 
we feel must be borne down and convinced on a field and 
with weapons chosen by us? The man, whatever his call- 
ing, who holds power unchecked in his hands, is in danger; 
power is a stimulant, and may be used to intoxication." 

Dr. Holmes's "Medical Highways and Byways" is a 
much more learned and ingenious treatise than Dr. Em- 
erson's, and may be read with entertainment even by ho- 
meopathists, against whom the Harvard professor is still 
hot as in the days when he made his early attacks upon ho- 
meopathy, transcendentalism, abolitionism and "kindred 
delusions" of 1842. 



(22) 
HERMANN GRIMM'S VIEW OF EMERSON 

The son of one of those industrious brothers Grimm, 
whose collection of popular German tales and whose philo- 
logical labors are known to all, Hermann Grimm has dis- 
tinguished himself by his own biographical and critical 
studies, and has written good lives of Michael Angelo and 
of Goethe- -to mention nothing else. These are not so 
much connected biographies as critical views of the great 
Italian and the great German. Toward the latter, Grimm 
stands in a peculiar relation, having married the daughter 
of Bettine Brentano, who was one of Goethe's later loves, 
and whose own correspondence with Goethe, full of fables 
and exaggerations, we fear, was for a long time deeply 
studied by those who wished to understand him . Bettine 
afterward married her brother's friend, Von Arnim, and 
it was the FraUlein Von Arnim that Hermann Grimm mar- 
ried some 20 or 25 years ago. He has long been an ad- 
mirer of Emerson, some of whose writings Grimm has 
translated into German, and with whom he corresponded 
for some years, either directly or through others. These 
facts give a value to the recent essay on Emerson which 
Grimm has published in Germany and of which transla- 
tions have since appeared in several papers. The trans- 
lation before us does not seem to be minutely exact, but 
it must have been in the original that some queer though 



trifling mistakes were made concerning Mr. Emerson's 
later travels and his way of life. Grimm, who met him 
for the first time at Florence in 1873, says that Emerson 
had reached Europe by way of California, India and Egypt; 
evidently supposing that Emerson's visit to California a 
year or two before his last European journey, was a part 
of that tour. In fact he returned from California to Con- 
cord, and some time afterward, while his house was re- 
building from the fire which destroyed the upper rooms, 
made the European journey which extended to Egypt, and 
during which he met Hermann Grimm in Italy. Concern- 
ing the Concord house, too, Grimm makes the queer mis- 
take that it was "one story" and he speaks with some sur- 
prise of its being "chiefly of wood," as if most of the good 
houses in America were not built of wood. He evidently 
thought of his Concord philosopher as living in a kind of 
cabin, perhaps near the forest primeval, which plays so 
large a part in European notions of American life . 

These, however, are trifling inaccuracies, and do not 
affect the general adequacy of Grimm's view of Emerson 
whom he compares, deliberately, with Schiller, Goethe, 
and even with Shakespeare, as poet and philosopher. In 
considering these comparisons we must remember that 
Schiller stands in German estimation much higher than 
with us, for we should hardly think of drawing a parallel 
between poets so essentially unlike as Schiller and Emer- 
son. Longfellow would seem to us a much closer counter- 
part of Schiller, — though Longfellow, equally with Emer- 
son, lacked that curious metaphysical, analytical quality 
that would have spoiled Schiller as a poet, had he not 
possessed in a high degree the fervor and melody of po- 
etic utterance also. Schiller, like Longfellow, was es- 
sentially imitative, and, like our American poet, drew 
largely upon history and literature for his subjects of 
song and drama; while Emerson, like Shakespeare and 
Goethe, looked in his own heart and wrote, --using litera- 
ture and history as the magic-lantern slides on which to 
exhibit the colors and forms of his imagination. Shake- 
speare, of course, was preeminently dramatic, and 
Goethe eminently so, while Emerson lacked the dra- 
matic element, and instead of it had what Mr. Alcott 
calls the personal , — that is, the inward co-ordinating 
element which must always be behind the dramatic pow- 
er, with its multiplicity of effects . This personal or 
unifying quality was more marked in Emerson, as it was 
in Dante, than in Goethe, or in Shakespeare, --though by 
no means wanting in them . In Goethe perhaps it was too 
much the result of reflection, while in Shakespeare, as 
in Emerson, it was the spontaneous expression of a pro- 
found nature. 

The parallel between Goethe and Emerson is more 
evident than any other suggested by Grimm . In both the 
poetic method was paramount, but was more or less 
qualified by the philosophic and scientific method, which, 
under the guidance of their poetic insight, led them both 
to anticipate some of the results of Darwin and the other 
development theorists and experimenters. But, unlike 
even Darwin, and still more unlike the followers and 
worshipers of Darwin, these poets did not rest in the 
prosaic side of the development hypothesis--but con- 
nected it with the high spiritual philosophy of which they 
were the interpreters. Yet they did not fall into the vi- 
cious circle of endless metaphysic, --too characteristic 



37 



both of German philosophy and of New England theology; 
and so both Goethe and Emerson stand apart, as Shake- 
speare does, from the Baconian, the Kantian and the He- 
gelian systems of thought, --preferring, instinctively or 
deliberately, the Platonic philosophy. Hermann Grimm 
does not say this, --perhaps does not think it, --but such 
is the truth of the matter. 



EMERSON'S MORAL POWER 

I became acquainted with Emerson's writings many years 
ago, when I was still young, and knew scarcely enough Eng- 
lish to comprehend them. Never did I study a language so 
zealously as then. Often it seemed impossible for me to 
reach the bottom of his sentences . In those days I felt that 
no one, as far as my gaze extended, had such things to say 
and knew how to say them like Emerson. A sunny concep- 
tion of the world emanated from him, a comparison which 
I now often find repeated. It seemed to me that he gave ut- 
terance to the highest conception of the past and the pres- 
ent. I tried to examine Emerson critically. But I never 
succeeded in it. There was a power in the man that no one 
had in common with him. A painting of Giotto's in Assisi 
portrays St. Francis resurrecting a woman who had died 
without confessing, but letting her live only long enough to 
enable her to confess . The woman raises herself up from 
the bier and he bends down to her. Thus it seemed to me 
as though Emerson had awakened things and endowed them 
with speech, and as though he knew more concerning them 
than his lips would tell. Emerson had an incomprehensi- 
ble way of putting the reader in communion with things 
without his describing or presenting them, and without 
our being able to perceive any visible art whatsoever 
whereby he produces this result. 

Permit me one more comparison. As the wind in the 
night passes through the wood and over the meadow and 
brings to us the trees and grasses and flowers, which we 
see not with the eye, thus does Emerson envelop us with 
a sense of things as though they were around about us. 
What I then thought quietly by myself I hear to-day pro- 
nounced as the feeling of many, as though no one from the 
outset had anywhere entertained any other thought. Goethe 
says: "*Tis impossible to show the day unto the day." 
("Unmoglich ist's, dem Tag den Tag zu zeigen.") He 
means that the secret of the present cannot be made clear 
to the present, that is to say, the connection between the 
experiences of mankind, which go on developing them- 
selves in endless mazes, and which like an immeasurable 
host are being driven onward and onward day and night by 
the hand of providence. We feel the force and obey. Tim- 
idly we ask, "Whence and whither?" On all sides rises the 
cry, "We know"; but no one believes these answering 
voices . Emerson never asserted that he knew more than 
others, but his sentences inspire one with the feeling that 
this was nevertheless the case, as though one might per- 
haps get an answer from them without his knowing it him- 
self. His words seem to ine at different times to be capa- 
ble of different interpretation. His thoughts often seemed 
to me like the single verses of an endless poem whose 
plan would be revealed even to the author himself only 
with the lapse of time. I had not looked at Emerson's 
writings in a long time. When the telegram of his death 



came, I took down the two volumes of the edition of 1871 
which George Bancroft once gave me, opened them and 
began to read. The wealth and harmony of diction again 
encircled and overpowered me. Even to-day I cannot say 
in what the secret of his power consists. It is wholly per- 
sonal in its nature. 

What he has written is like the unbroken life of the day 
itself, its atoms of events being ever renewed and glow- 
ing ever onward. Emerson's sentences often fall monoto- 
nously and without account. They are rows of thought. 
When he begins, it seems as though he were merely con- 
tinuing a speech whose beginning we had not heard; and 
when he closes, it seems as though he only desired to 
make a pause and then go on talking. Someone tells us 
how he once visited Emerson before a lecture and found 
him surrounded with pieces of paper out of which he was 
gathering his material. The adventitious in this mode 
of production does not lessen the value of his writings. 
Were they all, the introductions perhaps excepted, print- 
ed together typographically in such a way that they formed 
one long column, we would neither seek nor miss pauses. 
It would be like the continuous thought panorama of a man. 
Every minute of his life seems to have borne its special 
fruit. Emerson never seems desirous of giving more than 
what fills his soul in a given moment. He never built up a 
system. He never defended himself. He speaks as though 
he had never been attacked, and as though all men were 
his friends and of his opinion. He is never hasty, never 
gives anything the preference. He never aims at stylistic 
effect. He speaks calmly, as if translating from a strange 
language known only to himself. He is always talking to 
the same public, the unknown masses who buy him, read 
him and wish to listen to him . He always addresses them 
with the same manly friendliness . Nothing is easier than 
to declare a man who proceeds thus, an empty idealist, 
a dilettante who flits over everything the world shelters 
only because he is nowhere at home. Emerson has not 
been spared reproofs of this sort, for against no one is 
the world so sharp and pitiless, and justly, too, as against 
him who asks us simply to believe him in his highest 
thoughts. People have apparently ceased to regard the 
superabundance of learning of every sort which Emerson 
turned to account as the implements with which an idle 
babbler strives to surprise and attract the public. Nature 
itself surprises us with dazzling lights and illuminations. 

Emerson's work is now ended; nevertheless the at- 
tempt to classify him must always be made again and 
again. Meanwhile America feels only his loss. He was 
one of the representatives of the people's conscience. 
The means of communication of to-day bring the citizens 
of a country so near together that they feel themselves 
nearer one another than the burghers of former times, 
shut up together within the same narrow walls . The lat- 
ter were more wont to keep their opinions to themselves, 
and there was more persecution on account of variating 
views. Emerson was a moral supreme court of appeal 
for many and his existence was a pacification for the 
whole country. With his death America now feels not 
only that it is poor in that it has lost its "best man," but 
at the same time that Emerson was the last of a row of 
men who seem to have died out with him . But Emerson 
already formed the transition to that which to-day occu- 
pies the place of what has gone before. He no longer 



38 



turns with preference to those who read or have read, but 
rather to those who have only ears to hear. Bret Harte 
describes the little house of a settler in the far West. Its 
whole stock of intellectual furniture consists of Shake- 
speare's works and Emerson's portrait on the wall. Em- 
erson, as we have seen, is ranked with Shakespeare. He 
resembles him, too, in this that he can be understood with- 
out preparation. In this sense, though Emerson wrote com- 
paratively little poetry, it is said that he was in reality no 
philosopher, but rather a poet. Were we to adopt this com- 
parison with Shakespeare, we could refer to the gushing 
forth and wealth of thought, to the lack of all predilection, 
and to the exactitude with which whenever he makes a com- 
parison, he seems to have given it from actual experience. 
He resembles Goethe in the endeavor to assimilate every- 
thing belonging to the realm of science, and in the inclina- 
tion nevertheless to stand aloof from the alliance of men 
of learning, and yet at the same time to come in no colli- 
sion with them. Of Schiller his aesthetic-political sense 
reminds us, out of which, as in the case of Schiller, his 
democratic sympathies shine forth. Like Schiller, Emer- 
son believed in the superiority of the man of ideal, guilt- 
less thoughts overstate craft and intrigue. Through Schil- 
ler, too, we still receive the presentment of a great fu- 
ture, the certainty of the eventful appearance of a simpler, 
more heroic people, in whose midst every one will look 
down upon the despicable by-ways of to-day. This nation 
of the future, in which we all believe was proclaimed by 
Emerson to the Americans. Emerson was like Schiller 
in this, too, that he strove to exert an immediate influ- 
ence, and that he laid hold of everything as soon as it was 
necessary to discuss it, while Goethe only busied himself 
with what was congenial to his taste and rejected the rest. 
Emerson speaks of the most delicate things without mod- 
erating his voice, free and unconstrained, so that children 
may listen to him--a thing that Augustine, too, understood 
so well. With wonderful keenness he reduces the most 
complicated questions to simple formulas . 



(23) 
NEW ENGLAND THEOLOGY, OLD AND NEW- 
EMERSON, PARKER AND TRANSCENDENTALISM 

The open secession of Beecher from his denomination 
on the question of endless punishment, and the teachings 
of Prof. Park and the arrested Prof. Smyth give a new in- 
terest to the old discussions which have gradually liberal- 
ized New England theology, --so that Rev. Joseph Henry 
Allen's new book-- "Our Liberal Movement in Theology"-- 
appears at a seasonable time. It is a small volume, de- 
voted mainly to rather a small subject, --the history of 
Unitarianism in New England--and displays, here and 
there, the narrowness almost inseparable from the New 
England character; but it is a work of historic knowledge, 
earnest thought, and candid statements; and can be read 
with profit by many who will not take exactly the author's 
view of the facts. That it is confined to a brief period of 
New England history is no disparagement, --for it so hap- 
pened that New England has been allowed to lead the world 
in certain directions for the last century--and in none 
more usefully than in the direction of greater theological 
expansion and generosity. Politically, also, New England 



ideas have led the van in many regions where the name of 
Boston is unknown or held in odium; and there has been a 
close connection between the more liberal theology and 
the more democratic policy of the last half-century in all 
parts of the world. Indeed, if you consider who have lib- 
eralized governments, from Jefferson to Cobden, Caste- 
lar and Garibaldi, you will find that these men were also 
heretical in theology, according to the common standard; 
and if you consider who have liberalized theology, from 
Charming and Parker down to our time, you will find them 
in favor of democratic governments. In the age of the 
Puritans it was Calvinism which made governments more 
free, and Arminianism that allowed them to be more des- 
potic, --but in our time the reverse is nearer the truth. 
Even John Brown, the last of the Puritans, who began with 
Calvinism in all its strictness, could not quite maintain 
that position; and one of his neighbors at North Elba told 
me the other day that Brown "was not exactly orthodox in 
regard to future punishment." 

Mr. Allen recognizes this historic tendency since the 
American Revolution. He says: "Jefferson was a Unitar- 
ian of those days, --of the more daring and rationalistic 
school that sympathized with French opinion, yet in his 
way a serious and even a devout thinker. His assertions 
of human right, the 'glittering generalities' which he put 
in the Declaration of Independence, were of the gospel of 
humanity of that day; and by none was that gospel taken 
up with more ardor than by the English Unitarians. The 
most brilliant disciples of that new gospel were the group 
of enthusiastic young poets, full then of socialistic and 
humanitarian dreams, --Wordsworth, Coleridge and 
Southey. Coleridge even figured once as a Unitarian 
preacher." Many of the New England Unitarians, it is 
true, did not share these political opinions; but, on the 
whole, their sect was more advanced than any other of 
equal or greater importance numerically; and all their 
real leaders were political liberals, as Channing, Em- 
erson and Parker were. Even that old federalist, Josiah 
Quincy, who in his age became a good abolitionist, may 
best be described as liberal in politics; and from him, 
as a type of Boston Unitarianism, Mr. Allen quotes this 
sounding exposition of his religious and political belief. 
Said old Quincy: "Human happiness has no perfect se- 
curity but freedom; freedom none but virtue; virtue none 
but knowledge; and neither freedom, virtue nor knowl- 
edge has any vigor or immortal hope, except in the prin- 
ciples of the Christian faith, and in the sanctions of the 
Christian religion." In substance this is true, though 
many who accept it would dissent from the "principles" 
and "sanctions" that seemed such to Quincy. Channing 
gave to this formal statement a force of feeling which 
marks the great religious leader. Mr. Allen quotes 
from his last discourse, --on emancipation, at Lenox, 
two months before he died, in which he spoke propheti- 
cally, more than 20 years before Abraham Lincoln pro- 
claimed emancipation as a war measure. Dr. Channing 
said, in 1842: "I began this subject in hope, and in hope 
I end. I have turned aside to speak of the great stain on 
our country, which makes us the by-word and scorn of 
the nations; but I do not despair. Mighty powers are at 
work in the world. Who can stay them? God's word has 
gone forth, and it cannot return to him void. A new com- 
prehension of the Christian spirit, a new reverence for 



39 



humanity, a new feeling of brotherhood and all men's re- 
lation to the common Father, --this is among the signs of 
our times. We see it: do we not feel it? Before this all 
oppressions are to fall. The power of selfishness, all- 
grasping and seemingly invincible, is to yield to this di- 
vine energy. The song of angels, 'on earth, peace,' will 
not always sound as fiction." 

Some of Channing's predictions have been fulfilled in 
these 40 years, but others seem as far from fulfillment as 
ever. Emerson was more cautious in his essay on "War," 
written in 1837 as a lecture in Boston, when speaking of 
the ultimate triumph of peace. "All history," he said, "is 
the decline of war, but the slow decline. All that society 
has yet gained is mitigation; the doctrine of the right of 
war still remains." And in 1867, after our civil war had 
shown what good there might be even in a civil war, --the 
worst form of conflict, --Emerson said, in front of the 
soldiers' monument at Concord: "Every principle is a 
war-note. When the rights of man are recited under any 
old government, every one of them is a declaration of war. 
War civilizes; re-arranges the population, distributing- - 
by ideas- -the innovators on one side, the antiquaries on 
the other. As cities of men are the first effects of civili- 
zation, and also instantly causes of more civilization, so 
armies, which are only wandering cities, generate a vast 
heat and lift the spirit of the soldiers who compose them 
to the boiling point. The armies mustered in the North 
were as much missionaries to the mind of the country as 
they were carriers of material force; and had the vast ad- 
vantage of carrying whither they marched a higher civili- 
zation." But he added near the close of his oration, speak- 
ing of our returned veterans, "I hope they will be content 
with the laurels of one war." 

In the course of his book Mr. Allen has occasion to 
mention Emerson, and at its close he copies entire Dr. 
Hedge's eulogy on him given at the Unitarian meeting here 
last May. It is a noble and well-considered tribute, but 
when he says of Emerson, "He had no ambition even. He 
did not go about seeking opportunities of speech, as some 
who are reckoned philosophers use. If he could hold his 
peace he chose it rather"; --when he says this he does not 
describe Emerson, who, again and again, sought "oppor- 
tunities of speech" when he had something to say. He in- 
vited himself to give courses of lectures in Boston, to 
which hearers came gladly of course, --but they did not 
go through the modern farce of getting 20 or 30 of the 
eminent citizens of Boston to ask him to come and give 
them an opportunity of buying tickets . He knew there was 
an audience for him in the public, and at times he sought 
it; but he did not, of course, invite himself to address 
colleges and societies, --waiting with all self-respect un- 
til they invited him. Mr. Allen in another place gives the 
story of the origin of the Transcendental club, but does 
not perhaps follow its course quite so carefully as the 
minuteness of some of his statements would require. Its 
first meeting was at George Ripley's in Boston, Septem- 
ber 19, 183v6; its second meeting was at Mr. Emerson's 
in Concord; on the 3d of October, 1836, it met with Mr. 
Alcott, 26 Front street, Boston; but during the winter 
following it seems to have been given up, and was re- 
vived again in May, 1837, at the suggestion of George 
Ripley. From a letter of Mr. Alcott's, dated May 9, 
1837, I quote this: "Yesterday I saw our friend Ripley; 



he proposes to resume our meetings. As Mr. Hedge is 
in town and purposes to spend some weeks, why should 
we not? Mr. Francis inquired about them with interest 
when I saw him a few days since; and there are others 
who would join us. I see no reason to delay our meeting 
a single week; especially since those who were first to 
close, are now first to propose the renewal of our inter- 
views. We will talk this matter over when I see you." 
The club did resume its meetings on the afternoon of 
May 29, 1837, at George Ripley's house in Boston, and 
among those present were Dr. Francis (above mentioned), 
Dr. Stetson, John S. Dwight, --and, of course, Mr. Em- 
erson, Mr. Alcott and Dr. Hedge. In 1838 it met for the 
first time at Dr. Bartol's house on Chestnut street; but 
before that Theodore Parker had joined the "Friends," as 
he calls them, meeting with them for the third time Feb- 
ruary 8, 1838, at the rooms of Jonathan Phillips at the 
Tremont house, where Dr. Charming, as Parker says, 
"was the Socrates." Parker had joined the club in 1837, 
but Dr. Bartol was present at the meeting of October 3, 
1836, and so were Dr. Hedge, James Freeman Clarke, 
O. A. Brownson and Dr. Francis. At the first meeting 
(September 19, 1836), only six persons were present, -- 
Ripley, Emerson, Alcott, Hedge, Francis and Clarke. 
At Dr. Bartol's house in 1838, Dr. Follen was present; 
in September, 1839, at Watertown, where Dr. Francis 
then preached, Margaret Fuller, William Henry Chan- 
ning and S.J. May were present; and in December, 1839, 
George Bancroft, C. P. Cranch and S. G. Ward met with 
the club at George Ripley's house. The regular attend- 
ants seem to have been Emerson, Alcott, Ripley and 
Francis, --Dr. Hedge, living at a distance, was not so 
often present, but the meetings were sometimes ar- 
ranged to meet his convenience. After 1840 the club 
languished, but did not disappear till about 1848, when 
the short-lived "Town and Country club" was formed. 
At that time George Ripley had gone to New York, -- 
Brook-farm had failed and the political struggle against 
slavery had taken the place of general efforts for the 
reformation of mankind. Of this also, Mr. Allen has 
something to say, and much concerning the new relation 
of the church toward science and civilization. This is, 
in fact, the most important part of the volume, --written, 
as it is, in the light of all ecclesiastical history, and all 
the discoveries and assumptions of modern science- -Mr. 
Allen says, very truly: "The Christian ideal of human 
society is summed up in the phrase, 'Kingdom of heaven 
upon earth.' In its practical sense that kingdom was, in 
great part, soon lost sight of by the early church. The 
old creed --Catholic and Calvinist alike- -had its root in 
a sort of despair of human nature and destiny. In strong 
contrast to the New Testament, it remanded to a future 
paradise and hell the solution of a riddle which it felt it- 
self incompetent to solve in this world." And again: 
"Physical science accounts for nothing. It must involve 
in its premises all that it can possibly evolve in its re- 
sults. Somehow and somewhere- -it would be truer to 
say always and everywhere-- 'Mind acts back on Things.'" 
These extracts well indicate the drift of this author's 
opinion- -for it cannot quite be called a fast-anchored 
one. 



40 



(24) 
MR. ALCOTT'S CONDITION 

It is now a month since Mr. Alcott was stricken down 
with apoplexy, resulting in a complete paralysis of the 
right side, with loss of speech and inability to take food, 
in consequence of paralysis in the throat. He is fast ap- 
proaching his 83d birthday which will occur on the 29th. 
Yet in spite of his age and the severity of his attack, the 
excellent constitution which he has fortified by temperate 
habits and a serene spirit throughout life, has shown its 
vigor so much that he is now steadily gaining and seems 
likely to make a recovery nearly complete. He has re- 
gained speech and the use of the throat, so that he now 
takes food in sufficient quantity; sensation has returned 
in part to his paralyzed side, and it is hoped that active 
treatment will restore the use of that. He has much natu- 
ral and refreshing sleep, his feverish symptoms have 
abated and he is generally quite conscious of what is tak- 
ing place, recognizes his family and friends, talks con- 
nectedly with them, and sits up more and more, as his 
strength returns . His memory appears to be affected by 
the attack, but this also is returning to him, and he is 
better able to find the word he wishes to use than when he 
first recovered his voice. He sees few persons yet, his 
physicians preferring that he should remain as quiet as 
possible, but is comfortably an invalid at the house of his 
daughter, Mrs. Pratt, in Concord. A return of the attack 
is to be feared, but the present prospect is that he will re- 
cover, more or less completely, from the present attack. 
He has inquired of late concerning the next year's course 
of lectures at the school of philosophy, and indicates his 
wish to take part in it, if possible. The volume of the 
lectures in 1882, which Moses King of Cambridge is pub- 
lishing, will be issued without Mr. Alcott 's final revision 
of his own part, but he had given a general approval of the 
abstracts of his lectures before they went to the printer. 



(25) 
HAWTHORNE'S EARLY ROMANCES 

There are intimations of sunrise, and a certain radi- 
ance in the eastern sky of night precedes the rising of the 
moon, --but there is no announcement of a new genius, by 
which, as Emerson says, 

His near camp my spirit knows 
By signs gracious as rainbows. 

Therefore the youth and early manhood of Hawthorne were 
as obscure as those of any man of letters of whom we know 
anything. It would hardly seem that his own friends knew 
anything about what he was doing in those years from 1825 
to 1835 when he was "mewing his mighty youth" and pre- 
paring to come forth a finished author. He published "Fan- 
shawe" before 1830 and drudged for the shrewd Connecticut 
Yankee who called himself "Peter Parley," from 1831 on- 
ward, writing immortal tales at $3 apiece, --but fame was 
as shy of him as the people of his native Salem are of the 
poor leper who has lately gone there. He was for a good 
many years, he says, "the obscurest man of letters in 
America, "--but the very work he did in this period of 



obscurity is now, perhaps, the most precious of all that 
he wrote. He was essentially a poet, --and so Ellery 
Channing calls him "New England's Chaucer," and it al- 
most seems as if Wordsworth had written for him some 
years before his birth, those verses of "A Poet's Epi- 
taph": 

The outward shows of sky and earth. 

Of hill and valley he has viewed; 
And impulses of deeper birth 

Have come to him in solitude. 

In common things that round us lie 
Some random truths he can impart, 

The harvest of a quiet eye, 

That broods and sleeps on his own heart. 

But he is weak; both man and boy, 

Hath been an idler in the land; 
Contented if he might enjoy 

The things which others understand. 

The later work of Hawthorne and especially this latest 
published piece of sorcery, "Dr. Grimshawe's Secret," 
do not remind us of Wordsworth's ideal poet very much, 
but the earlier pieces do: and indeed they are nothing 
more nor less than "The harvest of a quiet eye." The 
work done by this unique writer was so noiseless that 
his hand seemed to be idle, while yet he was laying the 
foundation of his permanent fame . It was this "heavy 
seclusion," as he calls it, in which he "shut himself up 
for 12 years after leaving college, when everybody moved 
on and left him behind," that contributed more than any- 
thing else to the perfection of his style. The American 
world, which he excluded, could not then give him half so 
much culture as he found in his own mind and heart, -- 
looking into which he wrote. Other Americans, with here 
and there an exception, could literally have repeated 
Wordsworth's more famous dictum: 

The world is too much with us, late and soon, 
Getting and spending we lay waste our powers. 

But Hawthorne was withdrawn from all such evil influ- 
ences, and was greatly the gainer by his withdrawal, at 
least in these earlier years, --though he afterward re- 
gretted it. He published "Fanshawe" in 1828, and the 
first volume of "Twice-Told Tales" in 1837; between 
these dates he did much drudgery for "Peter Parley" 
and other publishers, but lived chiefly in retirement at 
Salem, either in the Hawthorne house near Union street, 
or in the Manning house on Dearborn street, seeing few 
persons except the members of his own family, and not 
always very much of them. In 1839, when he was 35 
years old, Bancroft the historian, then collector of Bos- 
ton, gave him a small place in the custom-house there, 
which he kept till Harrison and the whigs turned him out 
in 1 841 . For the Hawthornes and Mannings were demo- 
crats, and the future novelist was brought up, like his 
classmates, Frank Pierce and Jonathan Cilley of New 
Hampshire, in the political faith of Jefferson and Jack- 
son. He therefore shared, in Jackson's administration, 
the odium and contempt that fell, in Massachusetts, on 



41 



literary "loco-focos" like Bryant, Bancroft and Brownson, 
and on abolitionists like Whittier and Mrs. Child. Theo- 
dore Parker, writing to a friend early in 1839, said: "Dr. 
Parkman (Francis) is one of the most charitable of men; 
he loves all men , even Bancroft and Brownson, but he hates 
all their new notions." This shows how these two "loco- 
focos" were then esteemed in Boston, and this was the very 
time when Hawthorne went into the Boston custom-house 
under Bancroft. About the same time, or a little earlier, 
he had become engaged to his future wife, Miss Sophia 
Peabody, whom he married in 1842, and the circumstance 
that Miss Peabody was a friend of Miss Hoar of Concord, 
led to the establishment of the newly-married pair in Dr. 
Ripley's 

Old gray house, whose end we see 

Half peeping through the golden willow's vail 

Whose graceful twigs make foliage through the year. 

Here again Hawthorne dwelt in seclusion, though less so 
than before, and here he wrote or collected the "Mosses" 
and the second series of the "Twice-Told Tales." It is 
hard to say when many of these early tales and sketches 
were written, for there was a great mass of manuscripts 
composed by Hawthorne before 1836, much of which he 
burnt and suppressed, but which as originally written or 
afterward revised, did appear in his volumes. He strug- 
gled for a printer in those years of early manhood and 
once he thought he had found one in Ferdinand Andrews, 
who had before been associated with Caleb Cushing in a 
journalistic venture at Salem; but Andrews delayed so 
long to publish Hawthorne's "Seven Tales of my Native 
Land," that the disappointed author reclaimed the manu- 
script and burned it. Probably he did not make the sacri- 
fice in the exact manner described by him afterward in 
"The Devil in Manuscript "--where "Oberon" in a lawyer's 
office of Boston burns up his romances and sets the town 
on fire through the blazing chimney- -but that singular 
sketch, printed in 1851, gives the author's reasons, I 
fancy, for casting his treasures in the fire. "Would you 
have me a damned author?" cried Oberon, 'to undergo 
sneers, taunts, abuse and cold neglect, and faint praise, 
bestowed for pity's sake, against the giver's conscience! 
A hissing and a laughing-stock to my own traitorous 
thoughts, --an outlaw from the protection of the grave! 
One whose ashes every careless foot might spurn, --un- 
honored in life, and remembered scornfully in death! 
No, there go the tales!" (Throwing them into the wood 
fire.) "May my hand wither when I would write another!" 

This was genuine passion with Hawthorne, who had 
great capacity for passion; but he got over the fit and be- 
gan to write again. I suppose this burning took place be- 
fore 1831, and in 1830 he began to work off his silent fury 
by traveling "dead -head" on his Uncle Manning's stage 
line all over New England and into New York. On one of 
these trips he rode with his Uncle Sam (Manning) from 
New Haven through Cheshire and Farmington, Ct., to 
Westfield, Greenfield, and unknown regions northward; 
and it was on this journey and in Connecticut that he found 
the material for his charming "Seven Vagabonds," which 
is located not far from Stamford, Ct. At New Haven, he 
says, "I heard some of the students of Yale college con- 
jecturing that I was an Englishman"; and at Deerfield, 



"as I was standing without my coat at the door of a tav- 
ern, a man came up and asked me for some oats for his 
horse." At Farmington "I went to a Bible class with a 
very polite and agreeable gentleman, whom I afterward 
found to be a strolling tailor of very questionable habits." 
At Canterbury, N.H. , in 1831 he went to the Shaker Vil- 
lage where the Sanborns and other elders had then 300 
people under their discipline at the Canterbury commu- 
nity, founded in 1792. "On my arrival" (possibly in com- 
pany with his classmate, Pierce), 'the first thing I saw 
was a jolly old Shaker carrying an immense decanter of 
their superb cider; and he turned out a tumblerful and 
gave me. It was as much as a common head could clear- 
ly carry." Of the same New Hampshire trip he says: "I 
make innumerable acquaintances, and sit down on the 
door- steps with judges, generals, and all the potentates 
of the land; discoursing about the Salem murder (of 
White), the cow- skinning of Isaac Hill, etc." The White 
murder trials had closed at Salem late in 1830, and 
there was much talk about the part Daniel Webster had 
taken in them. It was the strange enormity of the mur- 
der as described by Webster which suggested to Haw- 
thorne afterward some passages in the "House of Seven 
Gables." And the scenery, with some of the incidents 
of this Canterbury visit of 1831 appeared 20 years later 
when he published "The Canterbury Pilgrims," a good 
part of which may have been written at the period of 
"The Seven Vagabonds," and "Mr. Higginbotham *s Ca- 
tastrophe." At this opening of Hawthorne's career in 
romance, he seems to have had the idea of wandering 
ever in his mind, --and would have welcomed for him- 
self a roving life, or a journey round the world. In fact, 
his friend Pierce, then in Congress, did in 1837, as Haw- 
thorne wrote Longfellow, "offer me his influence to ob- 
tain an office in the exploring expedition of Commodore 
Wilkes; but I believe he was mistaken In supposing that 
a vacancy existed. If such a post were attainable," Haw- 
thorne added, "I should certainly accept it; for, though 
fixed so long to one spot, I have always had a desire to 
run round the world." The "Passages from a Relinquished 
Work," in the "Mosses from an Old Manse," preserves 
the framework of this purpose to romance in traveling 
and travel forth romancing; but, like so many of Haw- 
thorne's undertakings, this changed its form and became 
something else before he had completed it. 

Historical fiction, strongly distinguished by fidelity to 
local scenery and character, was Hawthorne's forte- -and 
for this purpose the romantic legend and shadowy recol- 
lections of New England gave him admirable hints and 
suggestions. His "Gray Champion" is the best possible 
setting forth of the overthrow in Boston of Sir Edmund 
Andros; and will become a part of his biography, as the 
strong features of Shakespeare's English kings have be- 
come fixed upon them in history, whether truly or not. 
The faint impression made by Morton of Merry Mount 
on the history of Massachusetts is made permanent by 
Hawthorne in the second of the "Twice-Told Tales," 
which was founded upon a few allusions to the affair in 
old chronicles. Perhaps Hawthorne had read in old Scot- 
tow's narrative of the planting of the Massachusetts colo- 
ny in 1628, the account of the conversion at Salem of Ed- 
ward Gibbons (whom I take to have been of the same Eng- 
lish family as the historian Gibbon), one of the Merry 



42 



Mount crew. Scottow says of him: "Being the younger 
brother of the house of an honorable extract, Edward Gib- 
bons rambled hither, his ambition exceeding what he could 
expect at home. He was no debauchee, but of a jocund tem- 
per, and one of the Merry Mount's society, who chose rath- 
er to dance about a May-pole than to hear a good sermon, 
hearing of this meeting (at Salem when Francis Higgin- 
son set up the first church there), with great studiousness 
he applied himself to be at it, though above 20 miles dis- 
tant from it, and desirous to see the mode and novel of a 
church's gathering. Beholding their orderly procedure, 
and their method of standing forth to declare the work of 
God upon their souls, he sprung forth among them, desir- 
ous to be one of the society; who, though otherwise well 
accomplished, yet divinely illiterate, was then convinced 
and judged before all. The secrets of his heart being made 
manifest, he fell down and worshiped God, to their aston- 
ishment, saying, 'That God was in them, of a truth.'" 
This may be the person whom Hawthorne represents as 
carried to Salem by Endicott, a few years later. In truth, 
the famous Morton of Merry Mount was arrested and ban- 
ished by the Plymouth colony before Endicott came to New 
England; but some of his party doubtless remained and 
were visited by Endicott in 1628-9. It was 30 years after 
this that John Gibbon, of the historian family, spent a year 
in Virginia, after the death of the Salem convert. Edward 
Gibbon, who traded from Boston to Virginia and Bermuda, 
and once "brought home an allegarto," as Winthrop says, 
as a present to him when governor. 

But I am wandering from Hawthorne. . . . Yet in his 
most spectral and night-like moods, the heart of the man 
seemed to be sound and gentle, and, 

Those soft, still hazel orbs Count Julian had. 
Looked dream-like forth on the familiar day, 
Unbroken eyes, where love forever dwelt. 

The successors of Hawthorne, or those who esteem them- 
selves such, lack several things that he conspicuously 
had, --and this heart of love toward mankind, most of all. 
Their satire may not be so keen as his, but it is winged 
with a more profound skepticism, and the aim is lower. 



(26) 

LORD LYTTON ON EMERSON'S POETRY 

AND THE CRITICS 

In a letter of last summer quoted by Mr. Ireland in 
his valuable but heterogeneous, and often incorrect book, 
"Ralph Waldo Emerson, a Biography," the present Lord 
Lytton (Owen Meredith) said: "Emerson's work, (prose 
and verse together) I take to be the largest, the loftiest 
and the loveliest expression yet given to the philosophy of 
democracy. He is the most far-reaching of all American 
writers . I suppose there are few Englishmen of our gen- 
eration who have not been more or less influenced at some 
period of life by Emerson's genius. On my own youth he 
made a deep and delightful impression, and when I visited 
America in 1849 he was, of all eminent Americans, the 
only one I had an ardent desire to meet. Alas for me, of 
those then living, he is also the only one I did not meet." 



Robert Bulwer was certainly fortunate if he met all the 
eminent Americans of 1849, except Emerson, and got 
home alive- -but possibly he skipped one or two. His 
judgment in the matter quoted is unexpectedly good, and 
coincides with that of the Carlyles, between whom and 
the Bulwers there was little community of sentiment or 
opinion. This age, just closing, of American literature 
at least, will be known by Emerson's name- -it was the 
Emersonian age--and its influence reached far beyond 
America, even before Emerson had his full or decent 
recognition in his own country. Gradually the lesser 
writers of America, but at first more popular and fa- 
mous, came within his range and received some impres- 
sion from him- -Longfellow, Whittier, Holmes, etc. Low- 
ell felt the spell much earlier, though at first he rebelled 
against it, and Curtis earlier still in his own career; 
while other and younger writers were shaped by him . To 
what extent he took part in the publication of books that 
trained the common mind of America will be seen by his 
correspondence with Carlyle, now published, though in a 
less complete state than was hoped. Perhaps the missing 
letters can yet be recovered and added in a new edition. 
Mr. Ireland's book gives by good chance a contempo- 
rary record of Emerson's first visit to Carlyle and Words- 
worth in 1833 in his own words, for he was then in the habit 
of writing occasionally to Mr. Ireland. They met in Edin- 
burgh in the summer of 1833, just after Emerson had visit- 
ed Coleridge at Highgate, had seen Dr. Bowring, then a 
famous man, and had brought away from London a lock of 
Jeremy Bentham's hair- -his future scalp as it were — for 
Emerson slew the Utilitarians afterward in many angelic 
encounters. From Liverpool, some weeks after, Emer- 
son wrote to Ireland an account of his visit to Carlyle, in 
which he says: "I found him one of the most simple and 
frank of men and became acquainted at once. The com- 
fort of meeting a man of genius is that he speaks sincere- 
ly; that he feels himself to be so rich he is above the mean- 
ness of pretending to knowledge which he has not; and Car- 
lyle does not pretend to have solved the great problems, 
but rather to be an observer of their solution, as it goes 
forward in the world. My own feeling was that I had met 
men of far less power who had got greater insight into 
religious truth. Scott, Mackintosh, Jeffrey, Gibbon, even 
Bacon, are no heroes of his; stranger yet, he hardly ad- 
mires Socrates, the glory of the Greek world, but Barus 
and Samuel Johnson and Mirabeau. ... I fear he finds his 
entire solitude tedious; but I could not help congratulating 
him upon his treasure in his wife, and I hope he will not 
leave the moors; 'tis so much better for a man of letters 
to nurse himself in seclusion than to be filed down to the 
common level by the compliances and imitations of city 
to society." A few days after Emerson went to see Words- 
worth at Rydal Mount, and wrote to Mr. Ireland about this 
--perhaps in the same letter of August 30, 1833, saying: 
"He led me out into a walk in his grounds, where, he said, 
many thousand of his lines were composed, and repeated 
to me the beautiful sonnets, which he had just finished, 
upon the occasion of his recent visit to Fingal's Cave, 
Staffa. I hope he will print them speedily: 'The third is 
a gem.*" I quote this to show how early and appropri- 
ately Emerson used this now overworked phrase. The 
sonnet is as follows: 



43 



FLOWERS ON THE TOP OF THE PILLARS AT THE 
ENTRANCE OF FINGAL'S CAVE 

Hope smiled when your nativity was cast. 
Children of Summer! Ye fresh flowers that brave 
What Summer here escapes not, the fierce wave, 
And whole artillery of the western blast, 
Battering the Temple's front, its long-drawn nave 
Smiting, as if each moment were their last. 
But ye, bright Flowers, on frieze and architrave 
Survive, and once again the Pile stands fast: 
Calm as the Universe, from specular towers 
Of heaven contemplated by Spirits pure 
With mute astonishment, it stands sustained 
Through every part in symmetry, to endure, 
Unhurt, the assault of Time with all his hours, 
As the Supreme Artificer ordained. 

This is the fourth sonnet on Staffa as it now stands in the 
"Poems Composed or Suggested During a Tour in the Sum- 
mer of 1833," but this is the one Emerson means; and he 
seems to have retained some recollection of it in writing, 
some years afterward, his "Monadnoc": 

Our insect miseries, with pestering wing, 

Vanish and end their murmuring, — 

Vanish beside these dedicated blocks, 

Which who can tell what mason laid? 

Spoils of a front none need restore, 

Replacing frieze and architrave, -- 

Yet flowers each stone rosette and metope brave; 

Still is the haughty pile erect 

Of the old building Intellect. 

Here is Wordsworth's imagery carried up into a higher 
realm of thought. Lord Lytton, in the letter above quoted, 
goes on to say: "I admire Emerson's verses greatly, and 
think it underrated by the majority of critics, who, like 
the majority of administrators, never knew how to deal 
with a case for which they can find no precedents upon the 
file. Neither creative nor passionate, and therefore not 
of the highest order of poetry" (under your favor, Owen 
Meredith, I beg leave to dissent about that "highest or- 
der,") "they must be judged in reference to the value of 
the thought that inspires them, and to the fitness of their 
service as its vehicles. From these points of view they 
seem to me perfect of their kind, and the roughness of 
their rhythm a virtue, not a defect of art. They are not 
Hebrew Psalms uttered to the harp, but Delphic oracles 
or sunny meditations of a serene Pan, delivered in broken 
snatches to faint sounds of sylvan flutes." This is prettily 
said, and gives a hint of the truth. Emerson himself once 
said of himself, "I am not a great poet, but whatever there 
is of me is a poet." 



(27) 
EMERSON IN REVIEW 

I have been waiting some months for a good opportunity 
to notice the new "Riverside edition" of Emerson's essays 
and poems, which Houghton is publishing and which is edit- 
ed by Mr. Cabot, the literary executor, and by Dr. Emer- 
son, the son of the poet-philosopher. Matthew Arnold's 



lecture of Saturday, so long announced and in some re- 
spects so inadequate, gives me the text needed, but, as 
the edition is still incomplete, I can only speak of it in 
part and chiefly that part by which Arnold judges--the 
works published in Emerson's life-time. But it was well 
known to those who were intimate with Emerson that he 
withheld from publication much which would modify the 
judgment passed upon his own books in his own time. 
Some of this is now appearing, and the rest will gradual- 
ly come to publicity. It will be found of the same kind as 
that which he thought fit to print, but not always of the 
same quality, nor will it distribute the emphasis of life, 
as he viewed it, exactly where his published works have 
distributed it. We see this by his correspondence with 
Carlyle, --written with no view to publication, and there- 
fore inferior as literature to his essays of the same peri- 
od, yet of a vital superiority sometimes, because not se- 
lected for the public admonition or pleasure. His diaries, 
so far as they contain observations upon persons, will 
vary still more the scholar's emphasis with which Emer- 
son usually accentuated what he had to say; and which is 
still more noticeable, and in a less agreeable manner, in 
Mr. Arnold's pleas and verdicts, admirations and aver- 
sions. The English critic needs to have his scholarship 
vitalized and broadened; but he scarcely feels that need. 
Emerson felt it for himself, and therefore sought the 
means to expand himself into something more than a 
critic, more even than a scholar or "Man Thinking." 

In some early comment on Dr. Channing and Mr. Em- 
erson, written in July, 1839, when the fame of Emerson 
was narrow and local, though his genius was universal, 
Mr. Alcott wrote thus: "Channing fails of realizing our 
idea of a thinker and writer, a ripe and fruitful scholar. 
He has detached himself by his Rationalism from the 
deepest and most vital interests of the soul, and, of 
course, from the sympathy of the people. Add to this 
his exemption from the austerer disciplines which min- 
ister to depth and intrepidity. He lacks genuine vigor; 
he is a more cultivated fine gentleman. He has not the 
earnest efficiency of enthusiastic, robust thought. Emer- 
son is our promised scholar, and will, I trust, redeem 
his pledges to the ages. Should he fail, it will be from 
his passionless temperament and deficiency of stern dis- 
cipline. Insight he has; whether he have that persistency 
of will which vanquishes the hindrances of fortune re- 
mains to be seen." This was a fine forecast of Emerson's 
career as well as a verdict, perhaps too severe, on Chan- 
ning, who was the precursor of Emerson. Emerson 
proved to have that "persistency of will" which his friend 
desired for him; but he never quite outgrew the limita- 
tions of the scholar's temperament. A few weeks later 
(in August, 1839) Mr. Alcott writes again: "I had an 
agreeable walk amidst Emerson's sylvan haunts this 
morning discussing with him the social questions of the 
time. We agree, save in measures. He, faithful to his 
own genius, asserts the supremacy of the scholar's pen; 
I plead the omnipotence of the prophet's spoken over the 
written word, and the sovereignty of epic action over 
both." The two friends convinced each other in part, but 
the scholastic temperament was too strong in Emerson 
to be controlled even by his deep poetic impulse. 

It is in judging Emerson as a poet that Mr. Arnold, 
like most of the critics, makes his grand mistake. Not 
perceiving that Emerson was at heart and by innate genius 



44 



a poet, he falls into the ordinary comment on his verses-- 
that they lack simplicity, energy, wholeness. What he said 
(but not the whole he said) on this point Saturday was this: 

"Milton says that poetry ought to be simple, sensuous, 
impassioned. Well, Emerson's poetry is seldom either 
simple or sensuous or impassioned. In general, it lacks 
directness; it lacks concreteness; it lacks energy. That 
poem which shall be a plain, forcible, inevitable whole 
he hardly ever produces. Such good work as the famous 
stanzas on the Concord monument is the exception with 
him; such ineffective work as the 'Fourth of July Ode' 
or the 'Boston Hymn' is the rule. I do not, then, place 
Emerson among the great poets. But I go further, and 
say that I do not place him among the great men of let- 
ters. Who are the great men of letters? They are men 
like Cicero, Plato, Swift, Voltaire- -writers with, in the 
first place, a genius and instinct for style, whose prose 
is by a kind of native necessity true and sound." 

Now the fact is that Milton's dictum concerning poetry, 
if Mr. Arnold quotes him aright, is incomplete --the three 
phrases do not include all poetry; and notably the Hebrew 
poetry, with which both Milton and Mr. Arnold are very 
familiar, falls outside of the three categories very often. 
There is an intellectual poetry, of which Mr. Arnold him- 
self has written some fine examples, and which is neither 
impassioned, sensuous nor simple. There is what I have 
elsewhere called oracular poetry, which may be all three, 
but also may be neither. To this latter class Emerson's 
poetry generally belongs, and it is a very high class, to 
which Shakespeare, at his best, aspires and rises; and 
this is also true of Goethe, of Wordsworth, of Milton, of 
the Athenian and Theban poets, and of the Hebrew bards 
and prophets . But again Mr . Arnold says , "Not with the 
Miltons and Grays, not with the Platos and Spinozas, not 
with the Swifts and Voltaires, not with the Montaignes and 
Addisons can we rank Emerson." This is a strange collo- 
cation and parallelism of names. Wide was the gulf be- 
tween Milton and Gray, wider yet between Swift and Vol- 
taire, widest of all between Plato and Spinoza. Montaigne 
and Addison were far apart, yet it was a difference in kind 
less than in degree; but where was the common point be- 
tween Voltaire and Swift? To none of these four men save 
Montaigne could Emerson be compared; but let the year 
2100 A.D. decide if the New England essayist is not as 
great a "man of letters" as the French seigneur. As to 
Milton and Gray, Plato and Spinoza, I should say that Em- 
erson's place was between them --above Gray and below 
Milton as a poet, above Spinoza and below Plato as a phi- 
losopher- -yet in certain traits and in his constant atmos- 
phere on the level both of Plato and of Milton. Gray was 
a good poet, but only the segment of a man; so too, in an- 
other sense, was Spinoza, with all his virtues and his ge- 
ometry. But Milton, Plato and Emerson were full-grown 
men, using their manhood at the control of a masculine 
will, as trenchant in its scholastic province as the gen- 
eral's will is in his military department. Shakespeare 
was a full-grown man without this trenchant will, but in 
its place a genius at once the most sensitive and the most 
balanced that the world has seen; and therefore master in 
the region of poetry which demands susceptibility and bal- 
ance the most perfect. 

It is too early yet to assign Emerson his place among 
great men, as it would have been too early in 1617 or in 



1717 to assign Shakespeare his place. And with all Mr. 
Arnold's acumen, if he had lived in Milton's time, he 
would not have gone with young Milton in his encomium 
of Shakespeare, but would have sided with the Latinist 
Ben Jonson. Milton said, 16 years after Shakespeare's 
death, as you know; 

What needs my Shakespeare for his honored bones? 

The labor of an age in piled stones? 

Or that his hallowed reliques should be hid 

Under a star-y-pointing pyramid? 

Dear son of Memory, great heir of Fame! 

What need'st thou such weak witness of thy name? 

Thou in our wonder and astonishment 

Hast built thyself a live-long monument. 

And so sepulchered in such pomp dost lie 
That kings for such a tomb would wish to die. 

Mr. Arnold's comparison of Franklin and Emerson is 
more just than his yoking, above mentioned, of Milton with 
Gray, etc.; and in spite of his little knowledge of Ameri- 
ca, he seems to have perceived that it is their American- 
ism, their nationality, which unites them. They are both 
"wise beyond that which is written," and yet they are our 
two wisest and best writers. But Mr. Arnold does not 
quite understand either of these writers . He makes the 
vulgar mistake about Franklin, which so many have made, 
that he was purely utilitarian, as most Englishmen are 
utilitarian. He says: "Franklin's confidence in the hap- 
piness with which diligence, honesty and economy will 
crown the life of this workday world is such that he runs 
over with felicity." But in Franklin's sky, as in Chau- 
cer's, there were "more stars than a pair," or than the 
three fixed stars of the Anglo-Saxon, "diligence, hones- 
ty and economy," and it was the higher virtues that gave 
him 'felicity," not simply these lower ones. With Em- 
erson the mood was a loftier one, but the wisdom was of 
the same strain, and with all the lovely philanthropy of 
Franklin and of Emerson there was the trait of lonely 
superiority common to both. 

A music heard by them alone 
To works as noble led them on. 

The new volumes in the Riverside Emerson wait in this 
country for publication till they have been copyrighted in 
England; but very soon we shall have that one which con- 
tains the biographical sketches of Dr. Ripley, Samuel 
Hoar, Mary Emerson and Thoreau, together with other 
pieces now first collected, though not all first printed. 
The Atlantic has published two of these sketches recent- 
ly—that of Miss Mary Emerson being the more striking. 
The sketch of Samuel Hoar was not a speech made in Con- 
cord, as the heading indicates, but a contribution to Put- 
nam's Magazine, which George W. Curtis was editing at 
that time (1856). A briefer sketch of Mr. Hoar came 
out in the Religious Magazine of Boston, then edited by 
the present Bishop Huntington, who was, in 1856, a pro- 
fessor of theology in Harvard college. The sketch of Dr. 
Ripley was made up of several studies, put into their 
present form as a "biography" of the old minister for the 
records of a Concord club of which he was one of the 



45 



founders, and to which Mr. Emerson belonged. The ac- 
count of Miss Emerson was intended to accompany a vol- 
ume of her papers which Mr. Emerson hoped to publish. 
Some of these were lost in the fire that injured his house 
in 1 872 , and the favorable time for publishing the rest nev- 
er came, and perhaps never will come. She was a con- 
stant letter-writer and a volume of her epistles might be 
made up, no doubt. I remember her well in the years of 
her age between 80 and 90, when she had not lost the force 
and receptivity of her mind, but when years had sharpened 
the natural severity of it. She still admired beautiful and 
singular persons and had a great ambition to convert Tho- 
reau from his supposed heresies. He called on her fre- 
quently and was more welcome than the ladies of his fami- 
ly, to whom she felt the antipathy that one original person 
often cherishes toward another. The ribbons of Mrs. Tho- 
reau which excited her wrath were yellow and not pink--as 
I know from a long acquaintance with them . I was present 
at the famous conversation in Mr. Emerson's parlor when 
the late Henry James, having silenced Thoreau, was him- 
self taken in hand and castigated by Miss Mary Emerson 
for speaking disrespectfully of the moral law. It was a 
sight to be remembered, the little old woman rising in her 
earnestness, with clasped hands and shrill eloquence, de- 
fending the immutable decrees of God, and justifying his 
ways to man. Mr. James himself took it philosophically, 
and even enjoyed the spectacle and the discourse. This 
was about 1857, I think, and she died in 1863, at the age 
of 90. The occasion was one of Mr. Alcott's conversa- 
tions, at which Thoreau and Henry James were present. 
Mr. Alcott has now reached the age at which Miss Mary 
Emerson then was — having his birthday (84) on Thanks- 
giving day, when he received his friends, listened to mu- 
sic, and enjoyed the verses of one of his young disciples, 
printed in The Sunday Republican of the 25th of November, 
and read to him after the music . 

The last volume of the Riverside Emerson which I have 
seen is the "Letters and Social Aims," reprinted from the 
edition of 1875. This was the last volume of prose which 
Mr. Emerson edited, and was that he was working upon 
when the burning of his house in 1872 disarranged his pa- 
pers, and gave the shock to his mental habits from which 
he never recovered. Mr. Cabot speaks of this matter at 
rather needless length in his preface. The truth is that 
the great effort which Mr. Emerson's Harvard college 
lectures in 1869-70 imposed upon him, gave the first 
blow to powers that age was slowly undermining, but 
which would have endured for years the ordinary intel- 
lectual labor of a man so regular in habit and so frugal 
of strength as Mr. Emerson was. The chapters in this 
volume were written long before 1875, some of them more 
than 30 years earlier, and in them we find some of that 
criticism on Goethe which grew out of Emerson's life-long 
study of that author. Thus in the "Poetry and Imagination" 
Emerson says: "To know the merit of Shakespeare, read 
•Faust.' I find 'Faust' a little too modern and Intelligible. 
We can find such a fabric at several mills, though a little 
inferior. 'Faust' abounds in the disagreeable. The vice 
is prurient, learned, Parisian. The egotism, the wit is 
calculated. The book is undeniably written by a master, 
and stands unhappily related to the whole modern world; 
but it is a very disagreeable chapter of literature, and 
accuses the author as well as the times. Shakespeare 



could, no doubt, have been disagreeable, had he less 
genius and if ugliness had attracted him." There are a 
hundred passages as good as this in the volume, and as 
many a great deal better, --so that Mr. Arnold does not 
speak extravagantly when he says that the prose of Em- 
erson, like the poetry of Wordsworth, is the best English 
writing of this century. Each volume needs an index, 
however, as well as the general index that, we hear, is 
coming at the end of the series; and this volume needs it 
most of all, thus far. A few slips of the author or print- 
er may be noted --as where both this edition and that of 
1 875 speak of what Lord Ashley said in Parliament in 
1606 . There was no Lord Ashley so early as that, the 
first earl of Shaftsbury, whose earlier title was Lord 
Ashley, not having been born till some years after 1606, 
and 1666 is doubtless the date intended. The whole edi- 
tion is a most timely and valuable one, and is accompa- 
nied or followed by a "Little Classic " edition of the same 
matter, volume for volume. 



(28) 
EMERSON AND GENRJS 

That ingenious Irish-Grecian who has written so well 
about Homer and the Athenian dramatists, Prof. Mahaffy, 
is not only convinced that genius is decaying in modern 
civilization, but inclines to think that universal education 
is responsible for this decay. He seems to fancy that we 
should have more Shakespeares and Goethes, perhaps 
more Homers and Dantes, if we had not so much encour- 
agement given to all sorts of intellectual promise by the 
multifarious schools . Let me quote his words from a 
recent number of Macmillan: 

"It is surely more reasonable to say that in the days of 
Elizabeth, for example, the circumstances of life, both 
private and public, were such as to give scope and oppor- 
tunity to every original mind then produced, than to say 
at that moment there came into existence an extraordi- 
nary quantity of original minds, who created a splendid 
epoch. The most fatal of all influences upon genius --that 
of superior protection and systematic encouragement in 
the form of direction—has taken in our own day a new 
and deceptive form, and is possibly the main cause of 
the decay in the intellectual greatness of our age. If, as 
is conceded, court favor and support has been so dele- 
terious to the art of grown men, what must be the effect 
of similar patronage beginning with the child, and escort- 
ing him under its pernicious care from the cradle up to 
mature life? The nations of modern Europe, beginning 
specially with the English and the Germans, have got a 
fixed idea that by the wide spread of education through 
all classes they will discover and foster all the hidden 
genius of individuals, formerly lost for want of oppor- 
tunity. But, instead of this, the present methods of re- 
wards and punishments in education are certain to over- 
praise second-rate faculties, to starve or strangle some 
first-rate qualities, and to treat others with contempt 
and neglect." 

This is a startling suspicion, and not wholly without 
foundation; but this author does not quite arrive at the 
essential quality of genius, which is this--not to be 
starved or strangled, or in any way put aside from its 



46 



task. If the genius is here it will declare itself, and it is 
more rational to suppose that genius is taking another turn 
than formerly, instead of being killed out entirely. For 
genius is the most active and versatile Proteus in the world, 
and will not long confine itself to one shape or mode of ac- 
tivity; and as the paths of civilization widen and lengthen, 
there is more elbow-room for genius to do its work in. 
If it has abandoned the drama, look for it in the novel; if 
it no longer wages grand wars, it may be carrying on the 
campaigns of science or industry. Be it remembered also 
that the highest genius is necessarily rare, because it is 
so high; a Shakespeare once in 3000 years is often enough, 
since it will apparently take the world that length of time 
to understand him, --Mr. White has got no nearer than his 
late essays show after 300 years. The effect of universal 
education is to make the advent of genius less startling, 
since it gives a larger number of persons in any genera- 
tion who can appreciate and compare the present genius 
with the past; but there never can be an education so com- 
plete that extraordinary powers will not find their own ex- 
traordinary manifestation, sooner or later. Homer and 
his times are an illustration of how little what we now call 
education is needed to give an essential civilization to 
mankind. It is still in doubt whether Homer (if we grant 
a man of that name, or two men who did his work) lived in 
a time when men could write their own names; yet that age 
produced by an effort of genius poetry so good that nobody 
has yet surpassed it in its own kind. The Odyssey is evi- 
dence of a high state of civilization, coexistent, as such a 
state now is, with much barbarism in individuals and na- 
tions; and the Homer who wrote the Odyssey had all the 
delicacy and refinement of thought and speech that accom- 
pany high civilization now, — while he wrote also with that 
enviable simplicity which, for some thousands of years, 
men have been seeking vainly to equal. In part this sim- 
plicity is the effect of remoteness in time, and much that 
now appears artificial or tame to us will, if it survives 
the centuries, wear hereafter an aspect of simplicity, or 
at least of quaintness, which is the next thing to it, and 
of which Homer furnishes many examples. 

Prof. G. H. Palmer of Harvard, who now deals with 
philosophy, but formerly with Greek poetry (the two are 
not so far apart as some fancy), in publishing his excel- 
lent version of one quarter- section of Homer — the first 12 
books of the Odyssey- -has taken up in his preface some of 
the questions that no translator of Homer can escape, — 
even Hobbes being compelled to use his imagination a lit- 
tle in writing about this first of imaginative realists. Prof. 
Palmer says: "The Odyssey is the epitome of a civiliza- 
tion, and has as many aspects as it has translators. How- 
ever broad-minded the student may be, his sympathies 
are sure to reach a limit somewhere short of the compass 
of Homer. Hobbes commended the Odyssey to his readers 
as a series of lessons in morals. That which I enjoy most 
in Homer is his peculiar psychology, his unique ethical at- 
titude; notwithstanding his extraordinary powers of obser- 
vation and of utterance, he seems to me to confront the 
world like a child." This is well said, but must be under- 
stood with a difference, when he goes on to speak of Ho- 
mer's "simplicity, his realism, his finding joy where a 
child finds it, his lack of self-consciousness, his interest 
in a thing or fact for no more ulterior reason than because 
it is a thing or fact." Prof. Palmer is in truth describing 



the fundamental qualities of the poetic nature, which the 
most poetic person of our age has thus pictured: 

A moody child and wildly wise 
Pursued the game with joyful eyes; 
They overleapt the horizon's edge, 
Searched with Apollo's privilege; 
Through man and woman and sea and star 
Saw the dance of Nature forward far. 

This is what Homer did with serene cheerfulness like 
Emerson; Dante with gloomy and grand spiritual dis- 
cernment; Shakespeare with exuberance of imagination 
and humor; Emerson with keenest sensibility and noblest 
purity of soul--and these were all great poets. They were 
above our measurement, not above our appreciation. One 
of them said of another: 

I see all human wits 

Are measured--but a few; 
Unmeasured still my Shakespeare sits, 

Lone as the blessed Jew. 

It is in this quality of loneliness which an acute but 
narrow writer in the London Spectator finds the resem- 
blance between Emerson and Marcus Aurelius. Matthew 
Arnold meant nothing of the sort, but the writer says: 

"Emerson, like all true products of the New England 
genius, was a very solitary kind of person whose best 
sayings are short soliloquies- -thoughts uttered in an at- 
mosphere of loneliness. . . . The solitude which Marcus 
Aurelius got from his position in an empire in which he 
had no equal and few intimates, Emerson got from race, 
from temperament, from personal bias. There was 
something of stateliness in his simplicity, and some- 
thing, too, of the higher kind of democratic pride. . . . 
The profound admiration for him which so many of his 
countrymen seem to feel, is more admiration for the 
representative quality of the thought than for the thought 
itself. They perceive justly enough that there is some- 
thing of vastness, something of solitariness, something 
of peremptoriness--we do not mean in the despotic sense, 
but in the democratic sense—something of shrewdness, 
something of simplicity, something of wistfulness in him, 
which only America could have produced. He has more 
will than Hawthorne, more mass than Lowell, more mind 
than Longfellow, more spiritual life than Henry James, 
more catholicity than Parker. He is the product of Ameri- 
can life, and he is great, . . .their most characteristic 
man of letters." 

In these remarks there is little to find fault with, 
though there is much petty criticism in the rest of the 
article, and a complete ignoring, as in Matthew Arnold's 
case, of the key-note to Emerson--his profoundly poetic 
nature. This "solitude" of our great man was the loneli- 
ness of superiority, --a moral superiority like that of the 
imperial Stoic, but also an intellectual and imaginative 
superiority, which the good Marcus, like the good Wash- 
ington, never had. As Prof. Palmer says of Homer, as 
we might say of our poet, --"however broad-minded his 
students may be, his sympathies are sure to reach a 
limit somewhere short of the compass of Emerson." 

This new version of Homer is in prose, but aims at 



47 



an eloquent and rhythmic prose, which shall take "some- 
thing of the swiftness of the ancient hexameter; its variety, 
its capacity of quickly taking on the color of the thought 
conveyed, while still retaining that power which prose 
alone seems to possess, --the power of impressing on us 
its statements as facts." This is the translator's aim, as 
he suggests it himself, a high one to which he has not, of 
course, constantly attained, though he has been 12 years 
writing these 12 books. How he has succeeded may be 
judged by a familiar passage like that concerning Nau- 
sicaa and Ulysses, which shows the delicacy and the hu- 
mor of Homer at their best. The Phaeacian princess to 
whom the shipwrecked sailor has appealed, thus speaks: 

"Arise now, stranger, and hasten to the town, that I 
may bring you to my wise father's house. Only do this, -- 
you seem to me not to lack understanding; while we are 
passing through the fields and through the farms, here 
with my women, behind the mules and cart, walk rapidly 
along and I will lead the way. But as we near the town-- 
the rude talk of these (seamen) I would avoid, that no one 
afterwards may blame me. For very forward persons 
are about the place, and some coarse man might say, if 
he should meet us, What tall and handsome stranger is 
following Nausicaa? Where did she find him? A husband 
he will be for her, her very own. Some castaway, per- 
haps, she rescued from his vessel, some foreigner; for 
we have no neighbors here. Or at her prayer some long- 
entreated god has come from heaven above and he will 
keep his forever. Better to go for herself and find a hus- 
band elsewhere, for those about the country here she de- 
spises, though many fine fellows are her suitors. So they 
will talk, and for me it would prove a scandal. I, too, 
might censure another girl who did such things; who, heed- 
less of friends while father and mother were alive, should 
go with men before her public wedding." 

This is inferior to the original, of course, for it must 
be a great poet who can say anything so well as Homer; 
but it is good in its way, and conveys the meaning well 
enough and in a graceful manner. If Marlowe had had this 
to say, or Shakespeare, they would have put it in meter, 
and it would have run off the reel as smoothly as Mar- 
lowe's "Hero and Leander," which appears in all its un- 
veiled beauty in the new edition of Marlowe's plays and 
poems, edited by A. H. Bullen, which Houghton repub- 
lishes in America, as well as publishes Prof. Palmer's 
translation of the Odyssey. Mr. Bullen is an exact schol- 
ar, much interested in his subject, and inclined to take as 
favorable a view of young Marlowe's moral and religious 
character as the facts will warrant. He rejects the mali- 
cious evidence of Richard Barne, who professed to quote 
the atheistical speeches that Marlowe had made in his 
hearing, but admits that this rare young poet was an athe- 
ist and that he died in a tavern brawl. Mr. Bullen thinks 
that Marlowe wrote "Titus Andronicus" and the greater 
part of "Henry VI" as it now stands, allowing to Shake- 
speare but a small share in that play. Nevertheless, he 
thinks it absurd to say that Marlowe could ever have ri- 
valed Shakespeare, though he had greater gifts than any 
other of his contemporary dramatists; and he draws the 
parallel between the two friends and co-workers: "Shake- 
speare's sympathy with humanity in all its phases was 
infinite; Marlowe was a lofty egoist, little moved by the 
joys and sorrows of ordinary mortals. The gift of radiant 



humor which earned for Shakespeare the title of 'gen- 
tle' among his contemporaries, was denied to Marlowe. 
Shakespeare began his career as a pupil of Marlowe, the 
lesser poet was self-taught. Chapman speaks of men 

That have strange gifts in nature, but no soul 
Diffused quite through, to make them of a piece. 

All the Elizabethan dramatists, in greater or less de- 
gree, possessed these 'strange gifts in nature,' but in 
Shakespeare alone was the soul 'diffused quite through."' 
This is a just comparison; and the praises that are here 
given to Shakespeare must be awarded to Homer also, 
whose greatness and present value Prof. Palmer does 
not exaggerate. 

Now that we are up among the highest names in litera- 
ture, let us see what the English Prof. Seeley says about 
some of them. Speaking of the English he says: "It is not 
much in our habits to study foreign literature. There is 
actually only one foreign poet who has influenced us at all 
profoundly or lastingly, that is Dante. Are we bound to 
concede this very exceptional honor to Goethe also?" It 
should be said here that Dante's influence in England is 
hardly more ancient than Goethe's, for it is less than a 
century since Dante began to be studied there or in Ameri- 
ca. Then after speaking of the wealth of national sentiment 
inherited by Shakespeare and Scott, Prof. Seeley adds: 

"The poets who have a great fund of inherited senti- 
ment are the fortunate poets, who create easily and abun- 
dantly . A poet is more fortunate still when the fund of 
sentiment he inherits is not obsolete to his reason, and 
when it is richly supplemented by strong and fresh sensa- 
tions furnished by his own age. If to all this he add from 
his own genius an original power of insight into nature 
and the universe--then we have the Shakespeare, who, 
though, as Goethe says of him, the life of whole centu- 
ries throbbed in his soul, yet is at the same time him- 
self, since he is inspired by his own age as much as by 
the past and looks forward with eagerness to the future, 
and since he gives out from his original vitality as much 
as he receives, whether from his ancestors or from his 
contemporaries . Now Goethe does not belong to this 
fortunate class . He did not come into a great poetic in- 
heritance. When we inquire whence came his imagina- 
tive wealth, we are obliged to conclude that, in the main, 
he must have collected it himself. So far from being the 
growth and representative of a great age, or the result 
in literature of the silent nobleness of many generations 
of his countrymen, this great artist grew out of a people 
which had been sunk for a hundred years in an imaginative 
impotence, as well as in a national and political nullity." 

There is much truth in that, and it exalts Goethe in 
our estimation. Few men have done so much in literature 
since Plato as Goethe did, and the Germany that he left 
behind him in 1831 was immensely unlike, in its literary 
position, the Germany of 1749, when Goethe was born. 
The same is to be said, in a less degree, of the influence 
of Emerson on American literature, to which the Concord 
poet held much the same relation that Goethe does to the 
new literature of Germany, except that Emerson's influ- 
ence is far more spiritual and less in the forms of liter- 
ature than that of Goethe, who was both artistic and for- 
mal, while Emerson was neither. 



48 



(29) 
HARRIET TUBMAN, THE BLACK MOSES 



There is now in Boston, among those of her old anti- 
slavery friends who survive, one of the most remarkable 
characters that negro slavery in America ever produced — 
a colored woman 65 years old, whose services to her own 
race in bondage deserve to be related anew, now that she 
has come forth once more from the humble condition in 
which most of her life has been spent, and receives again 
the notice of the newspapers. She was the trusted and ad- 
mired friend of John Brown, of Governor Andrew, Secre- 
tary Seward, Wendell Phillips, Gerrit Smith, Thomas Gar- 
rett, Oliver Johnson, and many other abolitionists, and 
she did important duty in South Carolina in 1862-3-4, un- 
der Gen. Hunter and Col. Montgomery, as a spy, scout 
and hospital nurse. But her chief title to remembrance, 
and that which won her friends, was the romantic devotion 
with which she gave herself to emancipating slaves, at the 
darkest and most dangerous period for the fugitives, be- 
tween 1849 and 1858. The story is told by Mrs. Sarah 
Bradford, her biographer, in a little book published by 
G. R. Lockwood of New York last spring*, and we will 
abridge it for our readers until they see that interesting 
volume entitled "Harriet, the Moses of her People." 

Araminta Ross (whose latest married name is Harriet 
Davis and whose home is at Auburn, N.Y.) was born about 
1821, not far from Cambridge in Dorchester county on the 
Eastern Shore of Maryland. Her parents, Ben Ross and 
Harriet Green, were slaves, and negroes of unmixed blood 
--her grandmother on one side having been brought from 
Africa before the Revolution. Her father was a timber- 
cutter and she was brought up to the rudest occupations 
and developed enormous strength by hard work, though 
cruelly injured when a girl by a blow on the head . In 1 844 
she married a fellow-slave, John Tubman, and in 1849 she 
conquered her own freedom by escaping to the North. The 
estate to which she belonged was about to change hands by 
the death of her young master, and she feared that her 
brothers and herself would be sold to go further south; 
though by an old will, as she supposes, they had been set 
free. She had been in Baltimore, and had heard of Pennsyl- 
vania and New Jersey, --but she knew nothing of the North, 
could not read or write, and had no friend to help her. 
After many adventures she reached Philadelphia, where 
she found work and earned a little money. In the next 
year, 1850, she went back to Baltimore and brought away 
her sister and two children; and early in 1851 she re- 
turned to Maryland again and brought off her brother and 
two other men. In the autumn of 1851 she went back to 
Cambridge to bring away her husband, --but finding him 
married to another woman, she gave him over, collected 
a party of other slaves, and brought them safely to Phila- 
delphia. In December, 1851, she again went back and led 
forth another party of 11 , among them her brother and his 
wife, whom she took to Canada, --for it was no longer safe, 
since Webster and Mason of Virginia had passed their fugi- 
tive slave bill, for poor runaways to remain in the United 
States. In 1852 she worked in New York, New Jersey, 
etc., as a cook, and earned money with which, in the au- 
tumn of that year while Webster was dying at Marshfield 
and Gen. Scott was defeated by Gen. Pierce, she made 
her way back to Maryland again and brought away nine 



more fugitives. Before this time she had found a friend 
in Thomas Garrett of Wilmington, Del. , whose door no 
fugitive slave ever passed without help, and who wrote in 
1868 these particulars of his acquaintance with Harriet: 

I have not felt at liberty to keep any written word of 
Harriet's or my own labors, except in numbering those 
whom I have aided . For that reason I cannot furnish 
such an account as I otherwise could, and now would be 
glad to do; for in truth , I never met with any person , of 
any color , who had more confidence in the voice of God . 
as spoken direct to her soul . She has frequently told me 
that she talked with God and He talked with her, every 
day of her life; and her faith in the Supreme Power truly 
was great. Before 1860, I think she must have brought 
from the neighborhood where she had been held as a 
slave (in Maryland, some 80 miles from here), from 
60 to 80 persons. No slave who placed himself under 
her care was ever arrested that I have heard of; and she 
has declared to me that she felt no fear of being arrested, 
for she never ventured only where God sent her. I had 
been in the habit of furnishing her and those who accom- 
panied her, as she returned from her acts of mercy, with 
new shoes. On one occasion, when I had not seen her for 
three months, she came into my room and I said, "Har- 
riet, I am glad to see thee, --I suppose thee wants a new 
pair of shoes." Her reply was, "I want more than that." 
I in jest said, "I have always been liberal with thee, and 
wish to be; but I am not rich and cannot afford to give 
much." Her reply was, "God tells me you have money 
for me." I asked her if God never deceived her. She 
said, "No!" "Well, how much does thee want? " After 
studying a moment, she said, "About $23." I then gave 
her $24 and some odd cents, the net proceeds of £5 re- 
ceived through Eliza Wigham of Scotland for her . That 
was the first money ever received by me for her. Some 
12 months after she called on me again, and said that 
God told her I had some money for her, but not so much 
as before. I had, a few days previous, received the net 
proceeds of £1 10s from Europe for her. To say the 
least, there was something remarkable in these facts. 
Whether clairvoyance, or the divine impression on her 
mind from the Source of all power, I cannot tell; but cer- 
tain it was she had a guide within herself other than the 
written word, for she never had any education. 

Harriet was never able to learn reading and writing, 
though she often tried; but she had these inward warnings 
and visions, in which she believed and which seldom de- 
ceived her. She foretold the emancipation of the slaves, 
and she had a warning in a dream of the fate of John 
Brown in his Virginia expedition. When the Union army 
landed at Port Royal and captured the Sea islands in 1861, 
she procured letters and passes from Gov . Andrew and 
others and went down to South Carolina, where she joined 
the colored troops under Cols. Higginson and Montgom- 
ery, and served with them, in one capacity or another, 
until sometime in 1864, being much commended by Col. 
Montgomery and Gen. Hunter. When she went home in 
November, 1864, to Auburn, where her old father and 
mother were living, whom she had brought out of slavery 
in 1857, she visited Gerrit Smith, as she had often done 
before, and received from him this testimonial, which 



49 



she still carries with her: 

The bearer, Harriet Tubman, needs not my recommen- 
dation. Nearly all the nation over she has been heard of 
for her wisdom, integrity, patriotism and bravery. The 
cause of freedom owes her much. The country owes her 
much. I have known Harriet for many years, and hold her 
in very high esteem . 

Secretary Seward, just before leaving Johnson's cabinet in 
1868, wrote to Gen. Hunter, recommending a payment to 
her "for faithful services to the command in South Caro- 
lina," adding, "I have known her long, and a nobler, high- 
er spirit, or a truer, seldom dwells in the human form." 
She has always been poor, but has always given herself 
and her earnings for the good of others, --and she deserves 
all the kindness, now in her age, that can be shown to her. 
She has suffered from fire and other misfortunes, but her 
spirit is unbroken, and she cherishes the same faith in 
God and generosity toward others that all her friends re- 
member, which Friend Garrett has described in the letter 
quoted above. 



(30) 

PROF. RICHARDSON ON EMERSON, THOREAU AND 

AMERICAN LITERATURE 

Richard Culverwell, writing the preface to his brother 
Nathanael's learned discourse on the "Light of Nature" in 
1668, and commenting on the deep things of the Spirit, re- 
marks: "We may say with Aristotle at the brink of Euripus 
(not being able to give an account of the ebbs and flows), 
•If I can't comprehend thee, thou shalt me, '"--whereupon 
as the story goes, he threw himself into that narrow sea, 
and was drowned. The Christian fathers loved to tell this 
fable about Aristotle, who was so fond of going to the bot- 
tom of a subject that they supposed he had done this with 
the Euripus. Prof. Richardson of Dartmouth has treated 
American literature as the philosopher did the channel of 
Egripos--he has plunged into it, and it is still a question 
whether he will absorb it or be absorbed by it. His first 
volume, extending from 1607 to 1883, and styled "The 
Development of American Thought," has just been issued 
by the Putnams, and is to be followed next year by a sec- 
ond volume, devoted to American poetry and fiction. In 
the present one he considers the prose of our country, 
from John Smith to Josh Billings --and finds a great deal 
of it, --while he also passes judgment, in some sort, up- 
on our poets and the whole intellectual character of the 
Americans. It is a pleasure to find in him a freshness 
of style and some originality of opinion, which prevents 
him from merely repeating the verdict of the numerous 
authors who have attempted a similar task within 40 years. 
His material is ample, though not quite complete, and his 
discrimination is no more affected than is usual by per- 
sonal likes and aversions. Indeed, he is more free from 
these than most critics have been. 

The first chapter is an essay or lecture on "The Per- 
spective of American Literature," in which many just 
things are said--somewhat at variance, it must be added, 
with the practical treatment of authors which follows . It 
is not a very happily calculated perspective which plumps 



Mc Master's snow-ball statue of Washington down in 
front of the carefully modeled monument that Bancroft 
has reared to the same great man; nor is it quite just to 
pass Hamilton by so cavalierly, while extending Calhoun 
and Choate over eight pages. Hamilton should have had 
more, or they less; nor should the merits of Jefferson, 
great as they were, be suffered to eclipse those of his 
rival. In a plan so large, however, details of architec- 
ture cannot always be proportioned to the author's point 
of view, even, --much less that of his every reader; and 
Mr. Richardson speaks wisely when he says: "The time 
has come for the student to consider American literature 
as calmly as he would consider that of another country, 
and under the same limitations of perspective. Some 
things we have not done at all, some we have done ill, 
some passably well, and some better than any other na- 
tion in the world." He does not specify what these are 
very clearly, nor in his chapter on political literature 
does he say, although he may imply, that in this and in 
some fields of history our countrymen have excelled. He 
hardly does justice to Franklin's political wisdom, nor 
to Hamilton's constructive force and economic genius, 
though he does quote from one of Madison's papers in the 
"Federalist," a clear view of what our statesmen of the 
18th century effected: "They accomplished a revolution 
which has no parallel in the annals of human society. They 
reared the fabric of governments which have no model on 
the face of the globe. If their works betray imperfections, 
we wonder at the fewness of them." And he also quotes 
those prophetic words of Jefferson in 1801, which have 
proved so complete an answer to the doubts and ambi- 
tions of Hamilton: "Would the honest patriot, in the full 
tide of successful experiment, abandon a government 
which has thus far kept us free and firm, on the theo- 
retic and visionary fear that this government, the world's 
best hope, may, by possibility, want energy to preserve 
itself? I believe this , on the contrary , the strongest gov - 
ernment on earth ; the only one where every man , at the 
call of the law , would fly to the standard of the law , and 
would meet invasions of the public order as his own per - 
sonal concern. " This was proved in the civil war- -on 
both sides of the line. To have contrived and maintained 
such a government gives to our American political writ- 
ers a distinction which Aristotle did not have and could 
not acquire- -for what country was ever governed for 50 
years upon his theory of politics? Jefferson has there- 
fore approved himself a better political philosopher than 
Aristotle . 

The light of literature, wherever it gleams, in Ameri- 
ca or Central Africa, 

On Torno's cliff or Pambamarca's side, 

is "an ascendant light," as Culverwell says of the light 
of Nature, and he adds this: "Though the proper figure 
of flame be globular, and not pyramidal (which appears 
by those celestial bodies, those fine and rarefied flames 
that roll and move themselves in a globular and deter- 
minate manner), yet that flame which we usually see 
puts on the form of a pyramid occasionally and acci- 
dentally, by reason that the air is injurious to it, and 
by quenching the sides of the flame crushes it and ex- 
tenuates it into that form; for otherwise 'twould ascend 



50 



upwards, in one greatness, in a rounder and completer 
manner. Therefore 'tis fain to spire up, and climb up, as 
well as it can, in a pyramidal form." It is even so with 
the literature that Prof. Richardson writes about; the at- 
mospheric influence has been unfavorable, "otherwise 
'twould ascend upwards, in one greatness." When he finds 
a particle of pure flame, however, such as Emerson, he 
lets him "spire up" toward heaven in his own way, with 
only a slight disparagement now and then. Emerson is 
the touchstone for all critics--if they cannot hold their 
color with him they need not set up for oracles in litera- 
ture, and Mr. Richardson bears the test very well. He 
errs in fancying that Emerson owed anything to Shelley, 
whom he undervalued and seldom read, but no doubt he 
was indebted to Coleridge, to Wordsworth and to Goethe. 
His was, none the less, an original inspiration, as Mr. 
Richardson also recognizes. As for the 'Vagueness" and 
"superficiality" he finds in our sage, --those traits the 
critic must have brought with him. It requires much wis- 
dom to find fault with Emerson, or positively to affirm 
his "limitations"; and this wisdom must first be appreci- 
tive before it can without absurdity become depreciative. 
McMaster making a snow-ball and garden-gravel image 
of Washington is not a model for critics to follow--the 
material does not suggest the subject. 

On the whole, however, Mr. Richardson recognizes 
Emerson, as I have said; he even goes farther and recog- 
nizes Thoreau, which is something unusual for a college 
professor to do. There is a little too much of the critic's 
air of patronage in what he says of this unique man. "He 
had seen something of outside life, had graduated at Har- 
vard college, had learned how to survey land, could make 
a good lead-pencil, and could till a plain garden in fair 
fashion." He had seen more of inside life than most men, 
had learned to dispense with colleges, could use a lead- 
pencil with poetical effect, and in a few years converted 
rural Middlesex into a fair garden of the imagination. He 
could and did afford to 



phers and theologians by the dozen! 

It is time, however, to give another sample of Mr. 
Richardson's comprehensive book in his own words, 
which are often well-chosen, though sometimes marred 
by his printer. Speaking of the effect of our separation 
from Europe on intellectual results, he says: "The 
American mind has gained, on the whole, by its isola- 
tion. The English inheritance of culture and temper it 
shares, and the meager surroundings of the American 
intellect have by no means been a disadvantage unmixed 
with good. Those who work in ill-equipped solitude, far 
from bases of intellectual supplies, must think." It seems 
quite clear that the most distinctively American minds- - 
Washington, Jefferson, Charming, Emerson, Thoreau, 
Whitman, John Brown--could not have become what they 
were in the rich and orderly regions of European culture; 
where the world, as Wordsworth complained, would have 
been "too much with them." In this view, and in many 
others, --indeed, in the whole scope of his work, Mr. 
Richardson shows himself a critic of breadth and insight, 
but with a singular deference here and there, to second- 
rate standards of merit. "You are afraid of Pitt," said 
somebody to Henry Dundas, "and that is the flabby part of 
your character." Lucretius observed long ago that when 
intellectual dread disappears ( diffugiuni animi terrores ) 
the horizon of the universe expands (maenia mundi disce- 
dunt ); and I notice now and then in his work a fine chance 
to "make broad the phylacteries," or as my old Culver- 
well says, "enlarge the fringes of nature's garment," 
instead of trimming it quite so close. The "clatter of 
hungry Acheron" ( sheol the wise it call) still rings a lit- 
tle in our author's ears, and makes him attach undue im- 
portance to Calvinistic dogma, and a little undervalue 
the liberty wherewith Emerson hath made us free. 



(31) 
THE LATE DR. ESTES HOWE OF CAMBRIDGE 



Let the great world bustle on 

With war and trade, with camp and town, 

for he knew, and we now know that 

A thousand men shall dig and eat, 
At forge and furnace thousands sweat; 
And thousands sail the purple sea, 
Or crowd the market and bazar; 
Oft hail war end and peace return, 
And cities rise where cities burn, 
Ere one man his hill shall climb, 
Who can turn his golden rhyme. 

Men are valued, finally, on the ease with which they can 
be replaced, --and who could ever replace Thoreau. Mr. 
Richardson perceives also that Emerson as well as Alcott 
was a founder of what he calls 'that curious heterogeneous 
compound of wisdom and eccentricity, the Concord Sum- 
mer School of Philosophy," and gives a very good account 
of Prof. Harris and his philosophic Journal- -which seems 
to be read even in that colorless homogeneous union of 
wisdom and the tread mill- -Dartmouth college. May it 
be sanctified to 'em ! and may Hanover turn out philoso- 



In the great harvest of Death which we observe more 
sadly as our own years advance, the fall of a single per- 
son before that keen sickle attracts little notice; and this 
perhaps is the reason why the death of Dr. Estes Howe 
of Cambridge has been but slightly commemorated in the 
newspapers of his native and ancestral state, to which he 
gave such good service, and which he adorned with the 
grace of courtesy, and the virtues of an honorable life. 
To the people of Western Massachusetts, where the re- 
nown of his father, Judge Howe, of Worthington and North- 
ampton, is a memory or a tradition, something is due, 
that the character of the son may be remembered also 
where that of the father was so well known . 

Dr. Howe was born in Worthington, where his father 
at that time--in 1814--practiced law, and where the poet 
Bryant, son of Judge Howe's family physician, was one of 
his law-students. The rising lawyer left Worthington for 
Northampton about 1820. and his oldest son, Estes Howe, 
was there educated in part, though he fitted for college at 
North Andover, entering at Harvard in 1828, the year of 
Judge Howe's death, and graduating in 1832. Among his 
class-mates were Judge Abbott, John S. Dwight, John 
Holmes, Dr. Bellows, George T. Curtis and Stephen 
Salisbury. He studied medicine at Boston, and took his 



51 



doctor's degree in 1835, but he practiced comparatively 
little and was, most of his life, a man of business and of 
political activity, as his ancestors in eastern Massachu- 
setts had always been. His grandfather, Edward Hutchin- 
son Robbins, was one of the framers of the Massachusetts 
constitution and for 10 years either speaker of the House 
or lieutenant-governor, holding the latter office until 1809. 
Through this worthy man Dr. Howe was descended from 
Anne Hutchinson, famous for her heresies and the tyranny 
with which they were punished by Winthrop and his sourer 
companions in 1637. In the traits of his own nature Dr. 
Howe resembled Judge Robbins more than his own father; 
and the sketch which he drew of him for Mrs. Leslie's 
charming biography of her mother, Mrs. Judge Lyman 
(who was Dr. Howe's aunt) may serve in some particulars 
for our friend himself. "What is left to me of him," said 
Dr. Howe, "is the impression of a noble, high-minded 
affectionate man, whom I revered and loved. Although 
never prosperous in business, indeed sometimes really 
pinched by poverty, he had a very happy life, because he 
took so much pleasure in doing kindly acts, and he did so 
many of them. If I can leave as pleasant an impression 
upon the memories of my grandchildren, I shall be happy." 
Dr. Howe inherited independent and just opinions, which 
he never failed to declare and to maintain. With Anne 
Hutchinson's course, history is familiar; her grandson Ed- 
ward, when a deputy for Boston in 1658, protested against 
the bloody laws enacted there against the Quakers, and Dr. 
Howe early became enlisted against the slave oligarchy, 
which from 1835 to 1860 dominated in our national govern- 
ment. He lived at the West in early manhood, and came in 
contact with the men then prominent in our politics—travel- 
ing on one occasion for some days with Gen. Jackson and 
observing the original manners of that popular chieftain. 
When the "conscience whigs," under the lead of Charles 
Francis Adams, S. C. Phillips, Dr. S. G. Howe and oth- 
ers, separated from the "cotton whigs" and the "Webster 
whigs" (1845-6), Dr. Estes Howe joined them, and was 
one of the founders of the "free-soil" party in Massachu- 
setts. His marriage with Miss White of Watertown years 
before, had brought him into intimate relations with the 
anti-slavery circle of Boston and Cambridge, to which the 
White family, James Russell Lowell, Wendell Phillips, the 
Cabots, Follens, etc., belonged, --and this marriage also 
fixed his residence, ultimately in Cambridge, which he 
often represented in political conventions and sometimes 
in the state Legislature. He was an early and constant 
friend of Charles Sumner, and one of the first members 
of that once powerful political body, the Bird club, at 
whose dinners for 30 years it has been a pleasure for his 
friends to meet him. He belonged, likewise, to that other 
club, celebrated by Dr. Holmes and Edwin Whipple, at 
which, for so many years, Emerson, Agassiz, Lowell, 
Longfellow, Holmes and other good wits met monthly 
about their dinner-table at Parker's; and he was one of 
that famous Adirondack camping party of 1858, in which 
Agassiz and Jeffries Wyman were the zoologists, Emerson 
the poet and Stillman the landscape and portrait artist. Of 
those 10 companions Emerson said: 

Wise and polite, --and if I drew 

Their several portraits, you would own 

Chaucer had no such worthy crew, 
Nor Boccace in Decameron. 



"Wise and polite, "--the phrase exactly describes Estes 
Howe. Yet these fine qualities rested, as by nature they 
must, on a basis of manly strength and courage which 
made him the soundest adviser and the stanchest sup- 
porter in seasons of political crisis, --not less than the 
pleasantest companion and friend . He had that generous 
trait which the poet signalized in saying: 

Ever thou wert more wise for other's good 
Than for thine own, -- 

and whatever distinction or success, corresponding to 
his qualities, fortune may have denied or granted, there 
were gifts she could neither withhold nor bestow. In 
democratic communities we please ourselves with the 
perception that those powers and graces which in other 
lands are attested by permanent material advantages- - 
by wealth, rank and high privilege --here carry their own 
evidence, and procure a more inward and spiritual recog- 
nition. Diffused by descent and tested in every variation 
of circumstances, as the good ship is certified and regis- 
tered by storm or calm, the aristocratic excellences no 
longer oppress or dismay, but cheer the heart and em- 
bellish the life of the many. Such, at least, is the thought 
of the true American, and he finds illustration and proof 
in truly American characters, like that of our buried 
friend. F. B. Sanborn. 

Concord, January 16, 1887. 



(32) 
LONGFELLOW AND OTHERS- — AMERICAN BIOGRAPHY 

The two volumes of the poet Longfellow's biography by 
his brother, Rev. Samuel Longfellow, were full of good 
and pleasant things, but they were not so entertaining as 
had been hoped. A third volume, lately published by 
Ticknor & Co., --"Final Memorials of Henry Wadsworth 
Longfellow "--is much livelier; partly because it is short- 
er, and brevity is the soul of wit, and partly because the 
selections from letters to and from the Cambridge poet 
are more sprightly and were judiciously made, while the 
editing is done with equal fidelity by the same brotherly 
hand. Although incomplete as a portrait of Longfellow, 
I am inclined to think this volume gives a better view of 
him than did the former two, and like those, it contains 
many delicious things, a little at variance with the ac- 
cepted character of our poet of the Charles- -a sweet 
seriousness alien to the sly joke, which, in fact, was 
Longfellow's great delight. Thus he wrote to Jules Mar- 
cou in January, 1879: "You know what a New England 
winter is and I need not enlarge upon it. Two hand- 
maidens, Influenza and Neuralgia, sent from that intel- 
ligence office which is generally supposed to furnish us 
with cooks, make me as wretched as a Mormon with two 
wives." He means, of course, to remind his correspond- 
ent of that old saying, "God sends meat, but the devil 
sends cooks," and to imply that the same friend of man 
sends influenza and neuralgia. He could fully enjoy, too, 
the answer of the Sunday-school girl to her teacher, which 
Miss Phelps sent him from Andover two months later, -- 
"She was asked by her teacher the question, 'What book 
do good people like best to read?' Loud her answer rang, 
'Longfellow's Poems.'" This would have shocked the dour 



52 



Scot who wrote to Longfellow from Edinburgh, July 19, 
1879, "Your new poem about Robert Burns has created a 
melancholy interest. When Burns was on his death-bed 
in Dumfries, one of the baillies of the town went to his 
bedside and endeavored to get him to express a belief of 
and trust in Christ. Instead of doing so, Burns replied, 
'In 100 years they will be worshiping me.' Burns had no 
personal experience of the human soul created anew in 
Christ Jesus, without which there can be no entrance into 
heaven; but he had extensive knowledge of fallen human 
nature. . . . The last verse of your poem made me feel 
that it was an effort to hold fellowship and friendly inter- 
course with one in the place of eternal woe." This is a 
prosaic version of Judge Russell's witty epitaph on Bob 
Ingersoll- - "Robert burns." 

Longfellow was indeed what Dr. Holmes once called 

A cheerful Christian from the liberal fold. 

Even those painful experiences of life which darkened his 
spirit on one side could not shut out the light of heaven. 
In 1879 he wrote to his friend Greene, "I was 18 years old 
when I took my college degree; 18 years afterward I was 
married for the second time; I lived with my wife 18 years, 
and it is 18 years since she died. These four 18's added 
together make 72 --my age this year. And then, by way of 
parenthesis or epicycle, I was 18 years professor in the 
college here, and have published 18 separate volumes of 
poems. This is curious; the necromancers would make a 
great deal of it." It was indeed in most things a fortunate 
life, and an honor to him who lived it, and to the age which 
inspired him with subjects for his song. But what a con- 
trast between the beginning and the end of his career; not 
so great as that which Wordsworth mentions as to the fate 
of poets -- 

We poets in our youth begin in gladness, 
But thereof come in the end despondency 
and madness, -- 

but still the contrast between all the hope of youth and all 
the weariness of age. America, in the meantime, was 
going on from strength to strength, and passing through 
every great crisis that can befall a nation, without losing 
any of its vigor; but also without fully improving any of its 
opportunities. This volume gives in much detail the inci- 
dents and thoughts of Longfellow's last 15 years, ending 
with his death in 1882, --but it also allows glimpses of his 
earlier life and of his intermediate years of literary occu- 
pation, in which he became the most popular poet of his 
time. This popularity began with his "Voices of the Night" 
in 1839, and continued without interruption the rest of his 
life--more than 40 years--and until now. Yet how small 
in bulk was the book that gave him great fame! fifteen 
short poems in all, some of them written when he was 
but 18, and none of them after he was 35. "Evangeline" 
and "Hiawatha" afterward exceeded these early poems in 
fame and in merit; but they had the same charming quali- 
ties --delicacy and grace of expression, and a tender vein 
of sentiment which appeals to the young, to women and to 
the common heart of mankind. Expression always, rather 
than thought, was the characteristic of his writings, --yet 
as he advanced in years he sometimes uttered a general 



truth, and became at times profound; but his wisdom 
commonly was that of the many rather than of the few. 
Like all kind-hearted men who come to great fame, his 
popularity grew burdensome, as it was to Jefferson, 
visits and correspondence ate up his precious time, and 
all sorts of bores and cranks fastened upon him . The 
instances given in this volume of the annoyances he en- 
dured with patient kindliness, and only an occasional 
smile at the folly and selfishness of mankind, will in- 
crease our admiration of his well-tempered nature. 

An American life no less interesting than that of Long- 
fellow, though the tenor of it was so different, is that 
commemorated by Mrs. Susan Lesley of Philadelphia in 
her "Recollections of My Mother," who was Mrs. Judge 
Lyman of Northampton and Cambridge, but before that 
had been Ann Jean Robbins of Milton, where she was born 
in 1789. In 1811 she married Judge Lyman, who was 44 
and had five children, while she was but 22; yet the mar- 
riage proved to be one of the happiest, from first to last. 
Her sister writing about the engagement with some natu- 
ral vexation, said in 1811, "I do not think that if he was 
five-and-twenty, unincumbered, handsome and rich, good 
and estimable, she could have been more pleased with it, 
or decided on it with less reflection." Some of these 
qualities, and the best ones, Judge Lyman had; and the 
prospective sister-in-law thus described him, in the 
rhetoric of the time, "Respectable talents, chastened 
sensibility and pure benevolence beam from his counte- 
nance and enliven his conversation." Long afterward 
Mr. Emerson, writing to Mrs. Lesley (in 1874) said, 
"I had not then (in 1830) and I cannot believe that I have 
since seen so stately and naturally distinguished a pair 
as Judge and Mrs. Lyman. No guests came, or could 
come, I thought, who surpassed the dignity and intelli- 
gence of the hosts. It cost them no effort to preside or 
to please. Your mother was then a queenly woman, no- 
bly formed, in perfect health, made for society, with 
flowing conversation, high spirits and perfectly at ease, 
--understanding and fulfilling the duties which the pro- 
verbial hospitality of your house required." Such praise, 
from such a source, shows how worthy a subject for bi- 
ography Mrs. Lesley had, --and her own part in the work 
is equally well performed. There is hardly a more charm- 
ing biography or collection of memoirs in the whole cart- 
load of modern works of this kind; and the scenes of New 
England life therein depicted are such as we should wish 
the past age to be remembered by. The volume was pri- 
vately printed more than 10 years since, but is now made 
public, very properly. 

Mrs. Siddons, whose life by Mrs. Nina Kennard has 
been reprinted in Boston by Roberts, was a far more fa- 
mous person than Mrs. Lyman and had a special genius 
for tragedy; but in some points they were much alike, -- 
particularly in their strong domestic character, and the 
gift of hearty expression with the pen. Mrs. Kennard has 
the good taste to use many of the letters of Mrs. Siddons, 
and they are as good as anything in the book. She was 
older by one generation than Mrs . Lyman, having been 
born in 1753, and winning her first stage triumph in 1782, 
before Mrs. Lyman was born. Three years later, in 
1785, she first played Lady Macbeth, which was her 
greatest part, --and in which she was as great, they 
say, as any actor or actress who ever walked the stage. 



53 



Mrs. Kennard notes that she said in later life to Rogers, 
the poet, --"After I became famous, none of my sisters 
loved me so well, "--thus pointing to a sad trait of human 
nature, and woman nature, which one would rather not 
dwell upon. Mrs. Kennard also ascribes to Mr. Siddons 
"a morbid jealousy of his wife's energy and success"; and 
it is probable, as she suggests, that Mrs. Siddons did not 
bear her honors quite so meekly as she might have done. 
She was also incautious and romantic enough to become the 
victim of some ungrateful people named Golindo, whose 
story her biographer briefly tells. Her husband died in 
1808, but she survived until 1831, though she had left the 
stage more than 10 years earlier. She is buried in Lon- 
don, and Mary Anderson adorns her grave with flowers 
whenever she visits that city. 



(33) 
WILLIAM DEAN HOWELLS AND THE MODERN NOVEL 

There is one Tolstoi, and Howells is his prophet, --but 
the followers of esoteric Buddhism are not yet willing to 
give it up for the Tolstoyan religion, --and the Christians 
and pagans will hold out even longer. From his pulpit in 
Harper's Monthly Mr. Howells continues to preach the new 
gospel, but, like other preachers, he begins to grow tedi- 
ous, and unless he can somehow connect salvation or so- 
cial distinction with his doctrines, I fear they have seen 
their best days. He waxes wild in the September sermon, 
and declares that the modern magazine is worth all the 
literature of the past. Mahomet took the same view of his 
Koran; but the world has a way of outgrowing these fanatics 
and will not pin itself to a single book- -still less to "the 
periodical press," as our fathers used to call the magazine 
literature which seems to Mr. Howells so important. He 
tells his southern readers that 'the standard of mere ac- 
captableness at the hands of the great northern magazines" 
is the best critical standard they could have, and then goes 
on to say, --"At least three-fifths of the literature called 
classic, in all languages, no more lives than the poems 
and stories that perish monthly in our magazines . It is 
all printed and reprinted, generation after generation, 
century after century; but it is not alive, it is as dead as 
the people who wrote it, and read it, and to whom it meant 
something, perhaps. A superstitious piety preserves it 
and pretends that it has esthetic qualities which can de- 
light or edify; but nobody really enjoys it," etc. It is true 
that our preacher qualifies this sweeping sentence a little, 
but he adds other opprobrious epithets, and raises a seri- 
ous doubt whether he has himself read these authors whose 
funeral he celebrates. If he has not he can scarcely judge 
of their dead-or-alive condition; and if he has, we must 
still inquire what there is in his judgment that should make 
us prefer it to that of all past and present ages. 

There is much to be said in praise of the modern novel, 
as well as much against it; but Mr. Howells should remem- 
ber that it is time and time alone which decides what shall 
be called literature. If books survive their first century, 
it is a sign they have something in them for mankind as 
well as for the magazine reader; if they survive 1000 years 
it is not well to speak of them as dead, lest the speaker be 
charged with a lack of descriptive power. When Charles 
Remond called Washington "a villain," Wendell Phillips 



had to rebuke him mildly, by saying, "Charles, your 
epithet is not graphic"; and if Mr. Howells means to say 
that Aristophanes and Xenophon, Lucretius, Ovid and 
Statius are dead, he must write an essay to show why 
the civilized world persists in reading them. Harper's 
publications are not the only "journals of civilization," 
and all their editors combined cannot make much head- 
way against the literary men of England, France, Ger- 
many, Italy, Spain and Russia, even if they convert all 
Americans to their new faith. They may have all faith 
so that they can remove mountains, but the mountains 
in their way have a habit of growing up again, and their 
task is rather that of the fabled Odin, who undertook to 
drink up the sea, instead of casting mountains into it. 
With truth on their side they might accomplish even this, 
however . 

"Democracy in literature," according to Mr. Howells, 
"wishes to know and to tell the truth, confident that con- 
solation and delight are there; it does not care to paint 
the marvelous and impossible for the vulgar many, or to 
sentimentalize and falsify the actual for the vulgar few." 
Which, being interpreted, signifies that the real and not 
the ideal must be the aim of the novelist, --and that the 
real must constantly lower and actualize its standard, ac- 
cording to the taste of the times. There is nothing very 
new in this doctrine, either as theory or practice; and it 
hardly seems worth while to set up a monthly pulpit for 
the sake of preaching it. A few first-rate novels written 
under this rule would be more convincing than many ser- 
mons. Only the trouble is that the first-rate novels are 
never written in this way; and if those of Tolstoi or of his 
censer-bearer are first rate they are so because they 
idealize, and present truth in its eternal form, not in the 
guise of a fickle girl or a trifling youth. This, and the 
graces of style- -which must be permanent, and not mere- 
ly adapted to the fashion of the hour- -are what make liter- 
ature classic; and these preservatives will keep life in a 
great deal that Mr. Howells calls "very filthy trash." He 
would not apply this term to Homer, of course, or to the 
other great authors of Greece, --but their beauty and their 
truth may re-appear to another degree, less or more, in 
a Roman, an Italian, a French, an English or an Ohio au- 
thor 

On Howells' cheek all art of beauty set. 
And thou in Grecian tires art painted new. 

What was true of Virgil and Ovid may be true also of Edith 
Thomas or the sweet novelist of Ashtabula county; but the 
size of our rivers or the bigness and number of our month- 
lies have little to do with permanence in literature: 

The little Mincio, dribbling to the Po, 
Beats all the epics of the Hoang Ho. 

And it also beats, up to date, all the novels of the Ohio. 
Alice Pasmer cannot hold a candle to Queen Dido, and 
the wanderings of ^heas are even now more interesting 
than those of the Lady of the Aroostook. It may not be 
so hereafter, when the new gospel has had time to build 
itself churches and ordain several settled ministers, -- 
but it is so now. 

Mr. Howells thinks that the love of romance is "one 



54 



of the last refuges of the aristocratic spirit which is disap- 
pearing from politics and society and is now seeking to 
shelter itself in esthetics." Is it disappearing from the 
hearts of those women whom he paints so well, in tea-cup 
form and colors? If so, we may hope to see it expelled 
even from the novel- -but I have my doubts. One man, in 
the opinion of novelists and women, as well as of the Irish 
logician, is not only "as good as another" but "a deal bet- 
ter." and what is that but aristocracy in its subtlest form? 
"The pride of caste is becoming the pride of taste," says 
our preacher, and this sounds well for an epigram, --but 
has it ever been anything else? Mr. Howells must not 
borrow the overalls of Henry George; the tonsure and 
surplice of Father McGlynn fit him better, --the ridenti 
dicere verum, or truth embodied in a joke, best of all. 

The merits of Tolstoi are great, but they do not sur- 
pass those of Walter Scott; and, though the wars of Napo- 
leon may interest our century more, they are not in them- 
selves more interesting than those of Richard Coeur de 
Lion or Louis XI, about which Scott wrote. The merits of 
Balzac are great, but he, like Victor Hugo, was no more 
a realist in fiction than he was an idealist- -romance was 
in almost every novel he wrote, and in some of them it was 
the main element. I am not sure that the best of Henry 
James's novels --those long anacoluthons of human charac- 
ter, of which the latter part forgets the beginning- -will 
survive so long or have so good a name 100 years after 
their date as Dr. Johnson's "Rasselas, Prince of Abys- 
sinia" now enjoys. I fear that didactic romance will not 
answer to any of Mr. Howells 's stern requirements as to 
"truth," and is not the democracy of literature renounced, 
nay, denounced, in its very title? Yet "consolation and 
delight" still lurk in that Happy Valley which the Litchfield 
pedant so grandiloquently describes, and wisdom still 
pours from the lips of Imlac, who was simply Dr. Johnson 
in a caftan, simar or other oriental robe. What is it that 
gives life to stilted and imaginary Abyssinians, and denies 
it to truthful delineations of a hundred novelists of the 19th 
century? It is not because Dr. Johnson, in spite of the odd 
fashion of his singing robes, and the total absence of poetic 
fire from his bleared eyes, had something of the divine 
poet about him, and thereby made some of his work that 
perennial possession we call literature, --which is neither 
a monthly magazine, nor a weekly newspaper, nor yet a 
daily, --which comes nearest to that sort of truth Mr. 
Howells calls for- -but has a standard of its own, raised 
and visible through the ages, beyond the reach of the daily, 
the weekly, or the sacred monthly, to which so many of us 
contribute. 

The modern novelist contributes something to literature, 
but far less than he is prone to imagine . His form of writ- 
ing happens to be now the most natural and popular, though 
it can hardly claim to be so democratic as this most pleas- 
ing of our American novelists fancies it; but that is an ac- 
cident, and not material to the substance of literary work. 
There are men who write for immortality- -but they do not 
always know it when they sit down to their stylus, their 
goose-quill, their abominable steel pen (such as this one) 
or their new fashioned type-writer. What men write is not 
so perishable, all of it, as Mr. Howells sadly imagines. 
What has brought the long romances of Homer and the wild 
orientalisms of the book of Job down to our day of maga- 
zines and newspapers? Their authors are ne plus ultra of 



the anonymous--so nameless that a hundred names are 
given them at will by the perplexed scholar- -but their 
fame is deathless, and they are the early types of what 
we must still believe to be going on- -because from centu- 
ry to century we see it before us. Homer, Virgil, Dante, 
Shakespeare seem to be figures of the past, --but a century 
and a quarter ago there began to loom up the stately form 
of Goethe, --and now we have the indescribable and every 
way matchless Tolstoi. Perhaps the next immortal name 
may be that of a Mexican, Indian or a Congo black, --but 
if so, I will venture to predict that he will not write novels 
for Harper or the Century. 

While I have been writing these ejaculations and ram- 
bling meditations, the last new American novel has been 
brought in--Mr. Tourgee's "Button's Inn," which is a 
realistic romance of western New York frontier life and 
of Mormonism. It has merits, too, though it is not so 
long as Tolstoi's "Anna Karenina" or "War and Peace," 
and gives a clear picture of some phases of this singular 
American life of ours. But like Mr. Howells in his pres- 
ent pulpit, Mr. Tourgee shows too strong an inclination 
to preach, and many a little sermon does he insert along 
the rustic pathway of his little volume. Like his novels 
concerning the South, this one has a purpose, perhaps a 
little too evident for the uses of art; and thus comes into 
strong contrast with the novels of Henry James, which 
seem to lack purpose altogether. Mr. Tourgee has found 
a new publisher—Roberts Bros. --and his book, for some 
reason or other, is twice copyrighted. It comes rather 
late for a summer novel, but will amuse and perhaps in- 
struct an autumnal hour. 



(34) 

LETTER FROM CULTURED CONCORD— - 

ALCOTT, BANCROFT AND TRANSCENDENTALISM 

A newspaper paragraph is going the rounds to the ef- 
fect that Mr. Alcott on his last birthday (November 29) 
was not only 88 years old, but was in better health than 
for some time past. This announcement is likely to be 
misunderstood, like so much that has been said of the 
venerable transcendentalist since his illness began, more 
than five years ago (October 24, 1882). From the nature 
of the attack (apoplexy), and his time of life, it could only 
be expected that he would partially recover, and such has 
been the fact. He gradually regained speech, and ordi- 
nary health within a year after his attack, but has been 
confined to his room most of the time since, except for 
occasional drives in the country or city, for he has never 
been able to walk farther than a few rods, by reason of 
partial paralysis in the right side. The same cause has 
prevented the use of his right hand in writing, and, though 
he learned to sign his name to checks and other papers 
with his left hand, he has practically given up for more 
than five years that constant habit of writing which has 
its record in 60 or 70 volumes of manuscript journals, 
letters, etc., that he had accumulated before his illness 
in 1 882 . Portions of these manuscripts have been pub- 
lished before and since his illness, but the great mass 
of them remain to be edited and published, or retained in 
some library hereafter. The last publication made was 
an enlarged edition of his "New Connecticut" with curious 



55 



and valuable notes a year ago. He is very desirous to see 
some further publication of his papers during his lifetime, 
and with this in view he has spent much time in reading and 
arranging them since his illness. But his limited power of 
speech and his inability to write have prevented him from 
going very far in this work, which now has become an anx- 
iety and a burden to him. In fact, increasing age has for 
the last year enfeebled him, and his health is now less firm 
than it has been for three years past. Even his fine consti- 
tution could not always resist the inroads of age and dis- 
ease, and his appearance now indicates much infirmity. 
He resides at Louisburg square in Boston. 

Mr. Alcott retains his vital interest in the questions 
that always concerned him, and reads the books, new and 
old, which relate to the Transcendental period from 1835 
to 1855, when he was one of the leaders of a great social 
and spiritual movement that in time became political, and 
led to that complete revolution in our American govern- 
ment of which the civil war and the reconstruction of the 
South were the chief outward events; --while startling inci- 
dents like the execution of John Brown, the assassination of 
Lincoln, the emancipation of slaves and serfs in America, 
Russia and Brazil, have marked the period indelibly on the 
memory of mankind. Like the world-historical phenomena 
attendant on the French revolution, these and other effects 
flowed from spiritual causes and intellectual forces, at 
first little observed, but now plain enough to be seen, and 
of which, in regard to America, the world is beginning to 
take more ample notice. The position and career of Em- 
erson cannot be fully understood, unless viewed in rela- 
tion to this historical movement, --and in this respect most 
of his critics and biographers, not excepting the latest, 
Mr. Cabot, have failed to appreciate it completely. For 
a kindred but different reason, they have undervalued the 
share which Mr. Alcott had in the early public career of 
Emerson, and which the publication of his manuscripts 
would to some extent disclose. Mr. Cabot gives some 
glimpses of this in the few passages bearing on Mr. Al- 
cott which he cites from Emerson's journals and letters. 
Thus in a letter to Margaret Fuller, May 19, 1837, Em- 
erson wrote: "Mr. Alcott is the great man, and Miss 
Fuller has not seen him. He has more of the godlike than 
any man I have ever seen, and his presence rebukes and 
threatens and raises . If he cannot make intellectual men 
feel the presence of a superior nature, the worse for them. 
His ideal is beheld with such unrivaled distinctness that he 
is not only justified but necessitated to condemn and seek 
to upheave the vast actual, and cleanse the world." And 
in this journal of the same day, Emerson wrote: "Alcott 
is the most extraordinary man and the highest genius of 
his time. Wonderful is the steadiness of his vision. The 
scope and steadiness of his eye at once rebuke all before 
it, and we little men creep about ashamed." In 1846, when 
complaining of some practical defects in Alcott, he says: 
"He looks at everything in larger angles than any other, 
but the lines do not meet; the apex is not quite defined . 
We must allow for the refraction of the lens, but it is the 
best instrument I have ever met with." In 1852 Emerson 
wrote: "It were too much to say that the Platonic world I 
might have learned to treat as cloudland, had I not known 
Alcott, who is a native of that country; yet I will say that 
he makes it as solid as Massachusetts to me." These 
declarations, as well as some remarks of Mr. Alcott 



himself, give reason for thinking that some of the ex- 
traordinary utterances of Emerson's first great book — 
"Nature"--are due to the suggestion of Alcott, refined 
and concentrated in their expression by the masterly 
style of Emerson. 

What is singular and not hitherto noticed, I think, is 
that Heraud, the "cockney wind-bag" of Carlyle, but whom 
Emerson regarded as a good critic of Behmen and Sweden- 
borg, did in his London "Monthly Magazine" of September, 
1839, ascribe Emerson's "Nature " to Mr . Alcott, and re- 
viewed it in five pages, with copious quotations, as Mr. 
Alcott 's anonymous work. Heraud says, "Alcott con- 
cludes his very excellent essay with some traditions of 
man and nature which, he says, a certain poet sang to 
him, "--and then quotes those extremely Alcottian sen- 
tences which Emerson had put into quotation marks and 
ascribed to "my Orphic poet," as thus: 

"A man is a god in ruins. When men are innocent life 
shall be longer, and shall pass into the immortal as gently 
as we awake from dreams. Now, the world would be in- 
sane and rabid if these disorganizations should last for 
hundreds of years . It is kept in check by death and in- 
fancy. Infancy is the perpetual Messiah, which comes 
into the arms of fallen men and pleads with them to re- 
turn to paradise. Man is the dwarf of himself . Once he 
was permeated and dissolved by spirit. He filled nature 
with his overflowing currents . Out of him sprang the sun 
and moon; from man the sun, from woman the moon. The 
laws of his mind, the periods of his actions externized 
themselves into day and night, into the year and the sea- 
sons. But, having made for himself this huge shell, his 
waters retired; he no longer fills the veins and veinlets; 
he is shrunk to a drop. He sees that the structure still 
fits him, but fits him colossally. He adores timidly his 
own work. Now is man the follower of the sun, and woman 
the follower of the moon. Yet sometimes he starts in his 
slumber and wonders at himself and his house, and muses 
strangely at the resemblance betwixt him and it." 

Upon internal evidence any person familiar with the 
thought of the two men would say that this was Alcott, -- 
and not Emerson, except as he quotes and condenses the 
striking myth, which is in entire accord with Alcott 's 
Platonic imagination. Heraud was incapable of making 
subtle distinctions, --but Alcott was then so much more 
pronounced than Emerson that English "Alists" (not im- 
bibers of Alsopp's beverage, but followers of Alah, the 
divine), were ready to credit him with whatever accorded 
with this spiritualistic view of nature. This magazine 
article of Heraud contained also a quotation from George 
Bancroft's rhapsody on "The Progress of Civilization," 
which he contributed to Brownson's Boston Quarterly, in 
October, 1838, and in which Heraud finds "considerable 
brilliancy." In it the learned historian of the United 
States, who was also collector of the port of Boston un- 
der Van Buren, declared himself a full Transcendental- 
ism "Reason exists within every breast. I mean not that 
faculty which deduces inferences from the experiences of 
the senses, but that higher faculty which, from the infi - 
nite treasure of its own consciousness , originates truth , 
and assents to it by the force of intuitive evidence; that 
faculty which raises us beyond the control of time and 
space, and gives us faith in things eternal and invisible. 
To Plato or Aristotle, to Leibnitz and Locke, there was 



56 



no faculty given, no intellectual function conceded, which 
did not belong to the meanest of their countrymen." Thus 
Heraud quotes from Bancroft, but he might have gone on 
and cited this also: 

"It is time that the rights of women were asserted, not 
in the spirit of a Wolstonecraft, but in the spirit of Chris- 
tianity. The claims of women to equality are found in her 
moral nature; and they need only to be presented under this 
aspect to be readily acknowledged. Her education, the de- 
velopment of her powers, the exercise of her high endow- 
ments, are a duty not less imperative than the culture of 
man. Let women share in every benefit which the diffusion 
of culture achieves for the race. . . . The respect which we 
should cherish for Humanity receives the Comanche warri- 
or and the Caff re within the pale of equality. You cannot 
discover a tribe of men but you also find the charities of 
life and the proofs of spiritual existence. The barbarian 
who roams our western prairies has like passions and like 
endowments with ourselves . He bears within him the in- 
stinct of Deity, the consciousness of a spiritual nature, the 
love of beauty, the rule of morality. And shall we rever- 
ence the dark-skinned Caffre? Shall we respect the brutal 
Hottentot? All are men. When we know the Hottentot bet - 
ter we shall despise him less . . . . The decision of the com- 
mon mind is the nearest criterion of truth. The public 
mind winnows opinions; it is the sieve which separates er- 
ror from certainty. There can be no public judgment but a 
right one. The multitude therefore is the oracle to which 
we are to listen reverently; the tribunal before which we 
are to plead. Do not seek to conciliate individuals; do not 
dread the frowns of a sect; do not yield to the proscrip- 
tions of a party, but pour out truth into the common mind. 
Be not discouraged by the dread of encountering ignorance. 
The prejudices of ignorance are more easily removed than 
the prejudices of interest; the first are blindly adopted, 
the second wilfully preferred. Had Christianity been re- 
ceived at court it would have been stifled or corrupted; it 
lived in the hearts of the common people, it sheltered it- 
self against oppression in the catacombs and among tombs; 
it made misfortune its convert, and sorrow its companion, 
and labor its way. It rested on a rock, for it rested on the 
people." 

Thus we find George Bancroft, the transcendental cus- 
tom-house officer, anticipating Mrs. Howe in the cause 
of woman, and Mr. Dawes in the cause of the Indian, and 
Theodore Parker in his appeal to the people for the cause 
of religious truth; but in all these he was anticipated by 
Mr. Alcott, and surpassed by Emerson. Thoreau went 
further still, and exalted the Indian into a sort of prophet 
of nature- -wildness being with him a token of grace and di- 
vinity. His manuscripts have found a fit and loving editor 
in Harrison Blake of Worcester, who continues to publish 
them at intervals of a year or two. The stock is smaller 
than Mr. Alcott's, but the public demand for them is great- 
er, and increases with time; for in every generation of au- 
thors in England and America (a generation being about 10 
years) there rise two or three young men who bear testi- 
mony to Thoreau's influence on them. They misconceive 
him, of course, but not so much as Lowell and the Cam- 
bridge wits did; and he is slowly rising to his true place 
among poetic moralists. . . . Heraud, whom I have men- 
tioned, was a disciple of Coleridge, and as such received 
some attention from Wordsworth, who wrote to him in 



1838, in these characteristic terms, from Rydal Mount: 
"Accept my thanks for your able application of Mr. Cole- 
ridge's principles to the subject of poetry. Your genius 
and reflective powers entitle you to write upon that high 
argument, your oration delivered on Coleridge I possess. 
Fraser's Magazine, nor any other, do I ever see, but by 
the merest chance; except only Blackwood's, which is sent 
me once a quarter by the editor. But if Fraser had fallen 
in my way with your criticism in it, unless I had happened 
to know that it was yours , I should not have read it . There 
is commonly no bit of reading that I relish so little as no- 
tices of my own poems. In your case it will be different, 
and as I have a near connection who takes in that maga- 
zine, I can have an opportunity sometime or other of read- 
ing it without troubling you to send it." Here is a disre- 
gard of magazines that must strike Mr. Howells as almost 
sacrilegious. Carlyle's judgment of Heraud was different 
from that of Wordsworth and Emerson, and was thus ex- 
pressed in April, 1840: "Heraud is a loquacious, scri- 
bacious little man, of parboiled greasy aspect, --to me 
chiefly remarkable as being still- -with his entirely enor- 
mous vanity and very small stock of faculty--out of Bed- 
lam . He picked up a notion or two from Coleridge many 
years ago, and has ever since been rattling them in his 
head, like peas in an empty bladder. He escapes assas- 
sination, as I calculate, chiefly by being the cheerfulest, 
best-natured little creature extant. I mentioned to him 
once that Novalis had said, 'The highest problem of au- 
thorship is the writing of a Bible.' 'That is precisely 
what I am doing, ' answered the aspiring, unaspirating 
Heraud." A Bible in monthly parts must be the able edi- 
tor's idea of his magazine. 



(35) 
THE LATE WILMOT L. WARREN-- - 
THE TRIBUTE OF A FRIEND AND ASSOCIATE 

It is chiefly when the able and conservative editor dies 
that the public which has been reading him and finding 
fault with him for years, at last perceives what a force 
he has exerted, and what a restraining or forward influ- 
ence he has been in the wide community which he ad- 
dresses. Civilization is restraint on one side, forward 
and eager activity on the other; restraint of the individual, 
that is, so that he shall not paint his face, or raise his 
war-whoop in public, --and shall also keep his inward 
emotions under some control; and activity of the com- 
munity, which grows more intense and universal as we 
get farther away from the solitary selfishness of the bar- 
barian. Of this reciprocal and seemingly contradictory 
manifestation of the civilizing forces, the newspaper is 
now perhaps the best organ- -provided it be controlled 
itself by a civilized editor, who is both radical and con- 
servative. Such The Republican has long been esteemed 
at those occasional periods when its readers, whether 
friends or enemies, pause and reflect on what its course 
has been. At other times they may praise it or abuse it 
unreasonably, --but seen in perspective its true mission 
appears, and of this mission our late associate was one 
of the best upholders . This implies that he was an in- 
cessant worker, toiling while others slept and refusing 
to contend for the great material prizes in the lottery of 



life, in order that he might do his duty in the field of his 
choice . But of almost every office editor that could be 
said, and of millions more who never come to public no- 
tice. In Mr. Warren's case it implied much more than 
this--a steady and studious regard to the truth of history, 
the logic of events, and the daily trend of affairs; a willing- 
ness to learn from all sources, favorable or hostile, grand 
or petty; and a courage of opinion- -which is so necessary 
for any usefulness in journalism that many men assume 
the swagger of it, while inwardly they are shivering at 
every cold blast of public opinion and every raw drizzle 
from the counting-room side of their little world. A Re- 
publican editor would have enough to do if he heeded these 
changes of weather; but like the steersman on deck, he 
must disregard the passing scuds and squalls and mind 
his helm when blows a gale . Even then the maxim of the 
Norse sea-king may be his true sailing direction: 

The gale that wrecked you on the sand 

It helped my rowers to row; 
The storm is my best galley hand, 

And drives me where I'd go. 

This mother wit of the bold was early displayed in Mr. 
Warren, who yet had none of that conceit which made Dry- 
den's pilot "steer too nigh the sands to show his wit." He 
was ready for new opinions and not unfriendly to old ones 
(as women are to their fashions) merely because they are 
old. Above all, he was scrupulous that justice should be 
done to the old and the new, to the forward and the back- 
ward, to the loud and the noiseless, the visible and the 
invisible. He held the balance with a steady hand and did 
not, like some journalists, put his fist or his foot on the 
scale when the lighter side started upward. 

So much he deserves should be said of his modest and 
sufficient talent, never dazzling or unequal, by one who 
saw his professional career from the first, and rejoiced 
in the steadiness of his character. Equal to the occasion, 
never above it, -- par negotiis neque super , --was a good 
Roman compliment, which the steadfast in all countries 
may merit, and it was true of Wilmot Warren. 

Concord, December 25, 1887. F. B. S. 



(36) 
THE LATE GEORGE WALKER 

The sky seems less grand, says Emerson, as it shuts 
down upon less worth in the population of our little world, 
to which that sky gives the horizon; and this reflection 
must come to all those who knew George Walker. His 
was that constant, active and attractive worth which made 
every individual and every community to whom he was 
known the happier for his presence, and regretful for his 
departure—whether to another city of this world, or to 
that "continuing city," where the gentle virtues of his 
character are more at home than in the conflicts of this 
earthly life . Those who had his intimacy, and were en- 
riched by his private affection, have some right now to 
be heard in his obsequies, --which will be kept in more 
places than Springfield, and on other days than that of 
his wintry funeral. 

The snowy landscape of this January night recalls to 



57 



me, a compatriot and kinsman of his, those New Hamp- 
shire days among the hills of his birthplace when our ac- 
quaintance was matured in the rigors of winter which had 
begun in a milder season while I was at the Exeter school 
where I followed him as a pupil, at a long interval. His 
ancestry was wholly of New Hampshire- -on the father's 
side from the same family to which President Walker of 
Harvard belonged; and on the mother's side from the 
Smiths of Hillsboro county- -warm-blooded Scotch-Irish- 
men by descent, of whom Jeremiah Smith, governor and 
chief justice of New Hampshire, was the most distin- 
guished member. His mother was a favorite niece of 
Judge Smith, whose hospitable home was in Exeter; and 
when, with a tender mother's solicitude, she accompa- 
nied her two sons, James and George, to their school 
there, her own house, not far from her uncle's, became 
a center for young people, as his was for the great law- 
yers and the leading citizens of New England. Mr. and 
Mrs. James Walker, whose own home was at Peterboro, 
N.H. , spent two years in Exeter half a century ago, and 
their two bright boys entered college from there. James 
Smith Walker soon died, --his mother followed, and while 
still a youth of 18, quick in scholarship and devoted to 
letters, George Walker became the guide and companion 
of his beloved sister Ariana, nearly six years younger 
than himself (the namesake of Judge Smith's daughter 
Ariana, whose touching epitaph may be read in the Exe- 
ter burial place). Those who remember that gracious 
and winning character (speaking its own language through 
the loveliest presence and a native generosity of manner) 
will recall how close was the tie between brother and 
sister. 

Ay, me! while life did last 
That league was tender. 

Romantic, and yet careful for all prudential, intellectual 
and spiritual interests, it could endure the severest tests 
that wayward and enthusiastic youth threw in its path; and 
with unselfish devotion it secured the highest good for 
each and all. 

Could he have followed his own inclination George 
Walker would have made literature and the amenities of 
life the object of his talents; to this his early scholarship, 
his inherited warmth and elegance of nature, and the ex- 
ample of George Ticknor, with whom at Boston and Cam- 
bridge he came much in contact as a youth, all predis- 
posed him . But he had also inherited a turn for the law, 
in which his father was eminent, and his great- uncle 
much more conspicuous . It was not for this nephew, but 
for some youth more exposed to temptation, that Judge 
Smith laid down the playful rule-- "No young man should 
practice law unless he has an independent fortune." To 
acquire this young Walker began practice near Spring- 
field; and though he never rose to a high reputation at 
the bar, he early attained and continually was acquiring 
specialties of legal knowledge which made him the safest 
counselor in those branches to which he gave attention; 
and when he left Paris last summer, few Americans could 
compare with him for thorough mastery of financial and 
consular law, especially of the French tribunals . But 
something was always drawing him from that devotion 
to daily practice which makes a lawyer successful; and 



58 



when, about 1860, he accepted the office of bank commis- 
sioner from his friend. Gov. Banks, he really bade fare- 
well to general practice and made finance his specialty. 
He was one of the firmest and most forth-looking advo- 
cates of our national bank system, and he was able, at a 
critical moment, by his acquaintance with foreign econo- 
mists, to aid in establishing our national credit in Europe 
on the firm foundation that nothing has since been able to 
shake . 

His public services were great, but so modestly ren- 
dered that he derived little renown from them . This fact, 
to one so ready to appreciate others, naturally gave some 
pain at times; but he had that happy social temper which 
kept him always in the field, whether his rank was recog- 
nized or not. Society, indeed, was his true province; no 
man more constantly, more courteously or more unself- 
ishly performed his social duties, which to him also were 
pleasures . This kept him from close application to author- 
ship, for which, in economics and politics, he had much 
facility and great stores of acquired knowledge. He looked 
forward to the completion of some important work; and 
could he have realized his dream of spending a few years 
in the quiet of Exeter, surrounded by his darling books, 
at the house where he first learned to read good books in 
Judge Smith's library, he might have carried out the pur- 
pose. 

His attachment to New Hampshire (like that of most per- 
sons who saw the light in that hardy and picturesque birth- 
place of able men and gentle women) was little weakened by 
long absence and the effacing action of time. There were 
the hills and dales of his boyhood, there were the plains 
and wide waters and that first glimpse of the unfettered 
sea which his school life at Exeter had made familiar; and 
there was the little college of his father's studies and his 
own, to which Webster (his father's college contemporary) 
has given immortality by one stroke of pathetic eloquence . 
He had hoped to return something to the little state of his 
birth and breeding for the gifts she bestowed in his child- 
hood and youth. But this, like so many of his plans, found 
no earthly fruition. His life has suddenly ended, but it 
closed without leaving him an enemy in the world; while 
thousands to whom he has shown 'the peaceable fruits of 
righteousness" in kind deeds, thoughtful service and (what 
so many good men forget) unfailing and heartfelt courtesy, 
will shed with me the unavailing tear of regret . 

Springfield, January 17, 1888. F. B. S. 



How should not thy lovers rejoice in thee, leader and 

lord of the year that exults to be born-- 
So strong in thy strength and so glad of thy gladness 

whose laughter puts winter and sorrow to scorn? 
Thou has shaken the snows from thy wings, and the frost 

on thy forehead is molten; thy lips are aglow 
As a lover's that kindle with kissing; and Earth, with her 

raiment and tresses yet wasted and torn, 
Takes breath, as she smiles in the grasp of thy passion 

to feel through her spirit the sense of thee flow! 

The Herald also gives us a chance to compare the bard 
of America with the author of "Anactoria," who now very 
oddly dislikes the author of "Children of Adam" because 
he is coarse. Mr. Whitman too gives us very often little 
more than reminiscences of what he has done before, but 
he is an old man, and not a well one. Of late the Herald 
has taken to publishing verses of his in the curious shape 
of communications to the editor. He has returned to cele- 
brating his native Long Island, about which he used to 
have a great deal to say, calling it by its Indian name 
of Paumanok-- "fish-shaped island," as he interprets it. 
One of the new Herald things is entitled "Paumanok": 

Sea -beauty! stretch 'd and basking! 

One side thy inland ocean laving, broad, with copious 

commerce, steamers, sails, 
And one the Atlantic's wind caressing, fierce or gentle- - 

mighty hulls dark-gliding in the distance. 
Isle of sweet brooks of drinking-water- -healthy air and 

soil! 
Isle of the salty shore and breeze and brine! 

Another little fragment describes its outermost reach 
into the Atlantic, Montauk point: 

I stand as on some mighty eagle's beak, 

Eastward the sea absorbing, viewing (nothing but sea and 

sky), 
The tossing waves, the foam, the ships in the distance, 
The wild unrest, the snowy, curling caps- -that inbound 

urge and urge of waves, 
Seeking the shores forever. 

It is about 30 years since his strange utterance appeared 
in the Atlantic Monthly, for the first and only time, say- 
ing: 



(37) 
SWINBURNE AND WHITMAN 

Pretty poor stuff Mr. Swinburne turns out, threshing 
his trampled old straw over again, as in his ode to March 
in the Nineteenth Century . Twenty years ago he produced 
that breezy lyric beginning with 'the hounds of Spring" on 
"Winter's traces." Now he goes through the motions, but 
there is labor evident; long ago he lost that art which con- 
ceals art; and his verses sound rather like a clever paro- 
dy on himself. This first stanza was telegraphed to the 
New York Herald: 

March, master of winds, bright minstrel and marshal of 
storms that enkindle the season they smite. 



As I ebbed with the ocean of life, 

As I wended the shores I know, 

As I walked where the ripples continually wash you, 
Paumanok, 

Where they rustle up hoarse and sibilant, 

Where the fierce old mother endlessly cries for her 
castaways, 

I musing late in the autumn day, gazing off southward, 

Held by this electric self out of the pride of which I utter 
poems, 

Was seized by the spirit that trails in the lines under- 
foot, 

The rim, the sediment that stands for all the water and 
all the land of the globe. 



Fascinated, my eyes, reverting from the south, dropt 
to follow those slender windrows, 

Chaff, straw, splinters of wood, weeds, and the sea- 
gluten, 

Scum, scales from shining rocks, leaves of salt lettuce, 
left by the tide, 

Miles walking, the sound of breaking waves the other 
side of me, 

Paumanok, there and then as I thought the old thought of 
likenesses, 

These you presented to me, you fish-shaped island, 

As I wended the shores I know, 

As I walked with that electric self seeking types , 

As I went to the shores I know not, 

As I list to the dirge, the voices of men and women 

wrecked, 
As I inhale the impalpable breezes that set in upon me, 
As the ocean so mysterious rolls toward me closer and 

closer, 
I too but signify at the utmost a little washed-up drift, 
A few sands and dead leaves to gather, 
Gather, and merge myself as part of the sands and drift. 

There is deep significance in that, but the thing that struck 
the reader of the Atlantic, far back, before the war, was 
the formless oddity of the oracle, and when a little further 
on he read 

I perceive I have not really understood anything, --the ir- 
resistible impulse was to assent with impolite alacrity. 
The poem has been changed from its original form in its 
several publications, for Whitman works over his lines as 
much as Tennyson does, though so different an order of 
genius. And speaking of Tennyson, the indecent raid on 
the laureateship which Lewis Morris began with his jubi- 
lee ode he continues with an ode on the silver wedding of 
the prince and princess of Wales, which seems to be a 
trashy performance. He says of Marlboro house: 

Its lord an English noble , strong for public cares , for 

homely joys, 
A prince among the courtly throng, a brother with his 

boys. 

"Hail fellow with 'the boys,'" would have been a good line 
there, too. Mr. Morris as a poet doesn't compare well 
with Tennyson, that's a fact. The Herald prints his refer- 
ence to the crown princess: 

Nay, now by the Ansonia Sea, 
Daughter of England, good and wise, 
Thou watchest with sad, anxious eyes, 
Thy flower of chivalry . 

If that "Ansonia sea" puzzles the reader, let him call it 
"Ausonian," and trust James Gordon Bennett to discharge 
the proof-reader instanter. 




60 



(38) 
MISS ALCOTT'S DEATH 



By a strange coincidence of late, Louisa May Alcott 
follows her father from earth almost with haste, dying 
of brain fever at Dr. Rhoda A. Lawrence's in Roxbury at 
4 o'clock Tuesday morning. The fancy might be indulged 
that the Orphic philosopher, even in a world of liberated 
spirits, would feel the need of that capable and responsi- 
ble help he had always found comfort in while on earth, and 
calling his daughter, was not disappointed in her readiness. 
She was his eldest child, and full of the strength and sense 
of her mother, with something, too, of his sweetness of 
disposition, and she came into the world on his 33d birth- 
day, November 29, 1832, when the Alcotts lived at German- 
town, Pa. She was seven years old when her father first 
established himself at Concord. Four years later she ac- 
companied her father and mother to "Fruitland's" near 
Harvard, where a few enthusiasts tried to establish a tran- 
scendental community. The incongruities of the philoso- 
phers and their easy impracticability remained vivid in 
her mind long afterward, and a keen though good-natured 
sketch of life at Fruitland's, which appeared a dozen years 
ago under the title of "Transcendental Wild Oats," shows 
how she and her mother regarded the experiment. Return- 
ing to Concord, she received instruction for a time from 
Thoreau, the poet, wood-man, and "come-outer." But her 
education was begun and finished by Mr. Alcott. 

The Alcotts removed to Boston in 1848, and when yet a 
girl, the straitened circumstances of the family compelled 
Miss Alcott to take up an occupation. Teaching was the 
one calling open to her, and she followed it for 10 years, 
gaining wide knowledge of and fellow feeling with the char- 
acters and tastes of young people. Her sympathies were 
given a wider development during the civil war, when she 
acted as a hospital nurse. This experience found record 
in letters to her mother and sister, which on her return 
were published with little revision, as "Hospital Sketches," 
and found wide welcome, giving her a more familiar repu- 
tation than her father had ever acquired. In 1866 she went 
to Europe for her health, and on her return she published 
"Little Women," her most famous book, of which it is not- 
ed that 87,000 copies were sold in three years from its 
issue, and whose public is now not even bounded by the 
English speech, for this and several other of her books 
have been translated into several tongues . For many 
years after her success had been gained, she lived at 
Concord with her father, except during the winters, which 
she passed in Boston. No young girl who went to Concord 
ever thought her pilgrimage complete without a glimpse of 
Miss Alcott and a word or two from her. Of late she has 
made her home wholly in Boston, spending the summer at 
Nonquitt, near New Bedford. She has for a long time been 
deeply interested in the temperance question and in woman 
suffrage. 

Miss Alcott has written many books since her first suc- 
cess opened the way for her, and while they have a modest 
place in literature, they have reached a far greater and 
more appreciative public than her father ever commanded, 
for they have during 20 years been the treasures of chil- 
dren, one set after another in the households that have 
been formed in that time succeeding to the delight of their 
predecessors in "Little Women," "Little Men," and the 



others whose chronicles have been set down by Miss 
Alcott's cheerful pen. She began to write for the news- 
papers nearly 40 years ago, when she was a girl of 16, 
her first contribution, a story, having appeared in the 
Boston Saturday Evening Gazette. In 1853, while living 
in Boston, she published her first volume, "Flower Fa- 
bles," which was reprinted last winter by her publishers, 
Roberts Bros . This was dedicated to Miss Ellen Emer- 
son of Concord, who had been a younger playmate of the 
Alcott children, for whom and for the young Hawthornes 
the fables were written. No more books appeared until 
her "Hospital Sketches," which brought her into immedi- 
ate notice in 1863, when James Redpath printed it in Bos- 
ton; but the next year, 1864, she tried the public with her 
novel, "Moods," a peculiar book whose moral sanity was 
questioned in some quarters, although on its reappear- 
ance (with some revision) seven years ago, it met with 
no unfriendly criticism. Her "Little Women" appeared 
in 1867, and there never was a children's book that met 
with more instant and emphatic favor. It deserved its 
success, its little folk were done from the life, and her 
own personality contributed largely to the verisimilitude 
of the ever delightful "Jo." The vein so fortunately hit 
upon was followed in "An Old-Fashioned Girl" and "Little 
Men," which succeeded at intervals of two years, and the 
series of "Aunt Jo's Scrap-Bag." "Work; a Story of Ex- 
perience," contains something of her own life; and besides 
these she has published in St. Nicholas and elsewhere 
serially, and then in book form, 8 or 10 more volumes. 
A brave, buoyant, independent, free and enthusiastic na- 
ture, with the completest entry into the fellowship of chil- 
dren, affords the secret charm of these books and will 
long preserve her memory. 

Louisa Alcott's personality was extremely attractive. 
She was rather above the medium hight, with a dignified 
and somewhat imperious bearing. The strong intellectu- 
ality, the common sense and the benevolence of her char- 
acter were reflected in her face. Her conversational 
powers were brilliant. "Why, she talks just like her 
books," was the remark of a young woman after a pleas- 
ant and helpful call at Miss Alcott's Concord home. Her 
wit and humor, and her aptness at repartee, were pleas- 
ing from their perfect naturalness. Young and old alike 
prized her friendship . From all parts of the country 
would come letters asking advice and sympathy. The 
answers which Miss Alcott made to these were often the 
means of successful development and of the solution of 
the vexing minor problems of life. Shams of all kinds 
she despised, and social ostentation was especially ob- 
noxious to her. She treated social pretenders with silent 
indifference or with outspoken scorn. The speculative 
philosophy in which Mr. Alcott so delighted did not com- 
mend itself to his daughter. She believed in the gospel of 
practical progressive work. But her father found in her 
a sympathizer and a helper--not in his ideas, but in his 
poverty and troubles. The serenity in which Mr. Alcott's 
later years were passed, and the prolongation of his life, 
were largely due to Louisa's thoughtfulness and bounty. 

Miss Alcott's health was seriously broken in her hos- 
pital service, for a long time her life was despaired of 
and she never fully recovered. For some years past, 
her health has been very uncertain, and she has often 
been unable to continue her literary work on this account. 



61 



Last summer she broke down completely and placed her- 
self under the care of Dr. Lawrence in Roxbury, to whom 
she dedicated her last book. She was under the medical di- 
rection of Dr. Green of Columbus avenue, Boston, who was 
confident of her recovery, until she unfortunately exposed 
herself to take cold last week, and was soon attacked with 
feverish symptoms, which developed into cerebro- spinal 
meningitis on Saturday. She was mostly unconscious from 
that time until her death. She will be buried in Concord, 
a day or two hence . 



(39) 

THE ALCOTTS RECONSIDERED— - 

LOWELL'S LIMITATIONS 

The circumstances preceding and accompanying the 
deaths of those two correlated but mainly distinct forces 
in American literature, Bronson Alcott and his daughter 
Louisa, have given occasion for much comment in the news- 
papers, and of the most varied kind. Mr. Emerson in his 
later years once censured the critical discernment of a 

neighbor in Concord by remarking: "I never heard 

speak of Mr. Alcott otherwise than as a fool." The remark 
was capable of two interpretations, but he meant that this 
neighbor always estimated one of the most piercing intel- 
lects and one of the most learned memories of his time as 
no better than a fool- -or what the New York Nation calls 
"an innocent charlatan." Such phrases define the limits 
of the phrase-maker's intelligence and justice; as Phillips 
said of Charles Remond's calling Washington a "villain," 
the term "is not graphic." The children of this world are 
wiser in their generation than the children of light, but the 
latter have a more enduring wisdom, so that their despis- 
ers have been known to change their minds. " We fools," 
they are quoted as saying in an old record which may out- 
last even the New York newspaper, "we fools accounted 
his life madness, and his end to be without honor; but how 
is he numbered among the children of God I and his lot is 
among the saints." 

Mr. Alcott was indeed a saintly person, and in some 
ages of the world would have been worshiped for his un- 
worldly virtues , such as faith, hope, charity, purity of 
heart, holiness of life, intrepid courage, the constancy of 
a martyr, and freedom from the almost universal sins of 
pride, anger, avarice, malice and envy. Such faults as he 
had were rather the natural escort of these gentle traits 
than deep and original sins . The Pharisees often said unto 
themselves, and sometimes unto him, "Thou bearest rec- 
ord of thyself; thy record is not true"; and he might have 
replied, "Though I bear record of myself, yet my record 
is true: for I know whence I came and whither I go." He 
had no doubt concerning his divine descent, and did not 
trace his pedigree to an ape; though he thought kindly of 
the apes also, and would have addressed the lower crea- 
tures of God as fraternally as St. Francis did. Some of 
the Pharisees took this tune also, "Art thou also of Con- 
necticut? Search and look, for out of Connecticut ariseth 
no prophet." Yet that land of assessors, buttons, clocks, 
and deacons--the A, B, C, D of frugality and parochiality 
sent forth two great prophets, Alcott and John Brown, 
whose predictions we have lived to see fulfilled; while 
the chronicles of Boston Brahmins have suffered concise 



amputation- -cut short by the acceptable year of the Lord 
which caught them napping. It is a mistake, however, to 
speak of Mr. Alcott as one "with no family traditions of 
culture," for his uncle, Dr. Bronson, was a good sermon- 
izer, a poet, and a churchman, with the traditions that 
Anglican Christianity everywhere involves, and in which 
the young scholar was bred. Nor did Alcott's reading lie 
"only in one or two directions "--as they may easily see 
who will consult his diaries and commonplace books. He 
probably read more, and more widely even, than Emer- 
son, but he had not Emerson's sure instinct for the best 
in books, and often fastened his attention upon what was 
only curious or half said . The Inner Light attracted him 
and dazzled his eyes, so that he often saw authors as 
trees walking, and did not always distinguish a young oak 
from a currant bush; while Emerson had the perspicacity 
of an eagle, and could gaze upon the sun without winking. 
But the aquiline nature in Emerson kept him aloft and im- 
petuous where Alcott was more familiar and winning; and 
the two friends were fitted to each other by the very dis- 
similarity of their natures. Gracious manners in Alcott 
matched well with a lofty nature in Emerson; and each 
owed much to the other . 

It is gratifying to see how much better those persons 
are informed about the "Concord School of Philosophy" 
who have never attended its sessions than are those who 
go every year. If you ask them whether certain things, 
very tangible and intelligible to persons of some training, 
are taught there, they fall back on the shibboleth of Sir 
Boyle Roche, and "boldly answer in the affirmative. No!" 
But they have all heard of Emerson and of Alcott, and so 
they assume that the lecturers are mere echoes of one 
or the other of these two great men; just as English- 
women until recently supposed that Jefferson and Lin- 
coln, and other democratic Americans of whom they hap- 
pened to hear, were copper-colored and wore feathers in 
their hair. "Probably," says one of those instructive 
guessers, "most of those who were assembled came with 
the desire to place themselves in contact with Mr. Al- 
cott." The school has existed for nine summers, during 
only four of which did Mr. Alcott speak, while in three 
he was not even present, and in the other two attended the 
sessions no more than half-a-dozen times. The thousands 
who came in these years since 1 882 , must have had very 
theological views of the real presence, if they imagined 
that by sitting in his orchard they could "place themselves 
in contact with Mr. Alcott." No doubt the name of Alcott 
attracted some, as that of Emerson attracted many; but 
it was the thoughts presented which drew most of those 
who came; and these were often antagonistic or divergent 
from the thoughts either of Emerson or Alcott. The broad 
catholicity of both, and of their associates in the school, 
not only tolerated but welcomed these divergences. Yet 
it is pertinent to call this enterprise Mr. Alcott's "latest 
achievement," for it was the finishing stroke of his busy 
life, something of which he had dreamed for half a centu- 
ry, when his younger friends put it in realization for him 
in 1 879 . He had collected for it a library of curious books 
when he was in England in 1 842 , and when he bought and 
planted his Orchard House demesne in 1858-9, he had in 
view its use for such a seminary in after years. He 
planned and ornamented the "Hillside Chapel" in 1880, 
just as he had planned and ornamented Emerson's pictur- 



62 



esque garden-house 30 years before; and he was himself 
the ornament of the summer school, as long as he could 
take part in it. 

The Nation's list of Mr. Alcott's published volumes is 
very incomplete—omitting his "Table Talk," "New Con- 
necticut" and "Ralph Waldo Emerson, an Estimate of his 
Character and Genius," all which were published in Bos- 
ton under his immediate oversight, as was the interesting 
collection from his diaries of passages relating to Emer- 
son and Carlyle which Ticknor published (in 1884, but with 
date of 1885) in the "Genius and Character of Emerson." 
The Nation mentions four books published with his name, 
here are three others, and the list of his other writings is 
much longer than the Nation gives. He had made arrange- 
ments in 1886-7 for the publication of a new edition of the 
"Sonnets," with copious notes announcing who the persons 
there portrayed were and giving much information about 
them, drawn from his diaries and correspondence; but the 
work was delayed and postponed. Probably it will be is- 
sued this year or next. He collected in 1878-9 the materi- 
al for a memoir of Mrs. Alcott, to which his daughter re- 
fers in her will and which she at one time thought of edit- 
ing. A vast store of material for a work on his own "Life 
and Times" remains among his manuscripts, much of it 
copied for the printer by him or by others . Probably this 
will be edited in part by his friends Sanborn and Harris, 
whom he chose some years since for his literary execu- 
tors. 

Miss Alcott has made the publication of her own manu- 
scripts and correspondence difficult, if not impossible, by 
directing that they should be destroyed; yet some memorial 
of her life will doubtless be made either by itself or in con- 
nection with the romantic chronicle of her family. There 
needs to be a literal key to her fictitious portrayal of the 
Alcotts, Mays, Hawthornes, Thoreaus, etc., who figure 
in her books in singular combinations and ought to be ex- 
plained to readers who might otherwise be puzzled. It is 
said that Miss Alcott herself has written some account of 
her early life, to be printed in the Youth's Companion, and 
this will be very acceptable. Mr. Alcott was aiming to- 
ward an autobiography in the years just preceding Emer- 
son's death, and had made large collections, but he had 
written little except the notes to "New Connecticut," and 
some which he had made to annotate the Sonnets. It might 
be well to add the few poems of Louisa Alcott to those of 
her father, in a final collection of his verses; two or three 
of them were much admired and have poetical as well as 
sentimental merit. They were not poems of thought but of 
sentiment, while the rudest verses of Mr. Alcott contain 
always a germ of thought, and some of his mystical poems 
involve a whole school of philosophy, as many of Mr. Em- 
erson's do. Miss Alcott was no philosopher and made no 
excursions in that direction, as so many women have. 
Her region was that of the conscience, the affections and 
the common sense; her will was active also, and carried 
her through many perplexities, as did her mother's be- 
fore her, of whose vehement nature she largely partook. 
Many tributes of praise have been given to Louisa Alcott, 
both before and since her death, but none more just and 
conclusive than her father's sonnet, written in 1881 and 
comprehending the whole 20 years before, with their war 
experience and prizes of successful authorship, in one 
short poem : 



TO MY DAUGHTER LOUISA 

When I remember with what buoyant heart 

•Midst War's alarms and woes of civil strife. 
In youthful eagerness thou didst depart, 

At peril of thy safety, peace and life, 
To nurse the wounded soldier, swathe the dead; 

How, pierced soon by fever's poisoned dart, 
And brought unconscious home with wildered head, 

Thou ever since, 'mid languor and dull pain, 
To conquer fortune, cherish kindred dear, 

Hast with grave studies vext a sprightly brain, 
In myriad households kindled love and cheer, 

(Ne'er from thyself by Fame's loud trump beguiled, 
Sounding in this and the farther hemisphere), 

I press thee to my heart as Duty's faithful child. 

Some errors, as was natural, crept into the hasty 
newspaper accounts of Louisa Alcott. She was born in 
1832, not 1833; her first book, "Flower Fables," was not 
published in 1853, but in 1854, with the date of 1855 on 
the title-page. I know this because her father, with whom 
I had been intimate since 1852, when I entered college, 
gave me a copy, which I reviewed in the "Harvard Maga- 
zine" for March, 1855, of which I was then an editor, with 
Phillips Brooks and Charles Chase of Worcester for asso- 
ciates. These "Fables" were written in 1848-9, and pre- 
ceded the stories that she spun so incessantly for the Bos- 
ton newspapers a few years later, and of which I believe 
the first was not printed in the Saturday Evening Gazette, 
but in "Gleason's Pictorial Drawing- Room Companion," 
which John Phenix wickedly styles the "Second-Story 
Front- Room Gazette." It is true that Moncure Conway 
invited her to write in the Boston Commonwealth, which 
he edited for five months in 1862-3; but Mr. Conway had 
been in Europe two or three months when I began to pub- 
lish these letters of "Tribulation Periwinkle" (as Miss Al- 
cott called herself), in the Commonwealth of May 22, 1863. 
They ran through four numbers, not consecutive, and the 
last, or "postscript," was printed June 26. They were 
copied entire by many newspapers, and in part by many 
more; and when James Redpath published them in a little 
green-covered book, a few months later, they had a great 
sale. I paid Miss Alcott for these letters, and also for 
some "Letters From the Mountains" which she wrote for 
the Commonwealth; and I paid Mr . Alcott perhaps the first 
money he ever received for writing in the newspapers, 
when I printed in the Commonwealth, along-side his daugh- 
ter's letters, his sketches of "New England Reformers." 
His sole contribution to the Atlantic was his sketch of Tho- 
reau in 1862, which he included in "Concord Days," in 
1872. His "Table Talk" was published in 1877, and his 
"Ralph Waldo Emerson, an Estimate of his Character and 
Genius" in 1882, after Mr. Alcott's illness began. This 
edition (by A. Williams & Co.) had occupied much time 
and thought in the autumn of 1882, but the shock of apo- 
plexy so completely removed it from his mind that when 
he was shown the book, long afterward, he thought he had 
never seen it, though recognizing and reading it as his 
own. It is in substance a reprint of the essay on Emerson 
printed in 1865, with the addition of two poems and photo- 
graphic pictures from May Alcott's sketches. The New 
York notices of the Alcotts, except that in the Nation, are 



63 



inferior to those in the Chicago newspapers, for which 
Prof. Harris, Rev. Dr. Holland, Mrs. C. K. Sherman 
and other good critics furnished material. The Chicago 
News printed the best criticism I have seen on Louisa Al- 
cott's style, which has so perplexed pedants and purists. 
It said: 

"The daughter of a mystic and a transcendentalist, 
reared on abstruse philosophies and cradled in the per- 
plexities of occult speculation, she was one of the sim- 
plest writers that ever put pen to paper. She preached 
the religion of courtesy, unpretending honor, and honest 
endeavor. In her books the good, which is so often the 
commonplace, became desirable. Perhaps her stories 
were the first to usher in that rich and wholesome litera- 
ture which the children of America now possess and hold 
above all other children of the world. So unpretending 
yet so perfect was her art that the reader always failed 
to praise the author in enjoying the tale." 

I have left myself small space to speak of Lowell's new 
volume of poems, chiefly old, which he calls "Heartsease 
and Rue," and gives a sad reason for the title in the open- 
ing epigram. Like all collections it must be classified, 
and the author divides the 90 pieces, short and long, into 
five classes: "Friendship," "Sentiment," "Fancy," "Hu- 
mor and Satire," and "Epigrams." This arrangement is 
almost as fanciful as one of Mr. Alcott's, nor is the di- 
vision very strictly made; for "Arcadia Rediviva" is as 
humorous as sentimental, and more satirical than either. 
But why should we find fault with the bill of fare when the 
dishes are so good? and among these later poems are 
some of the best that Lowell has written during his 69 
years, of which more than 50 have been given to versify- 
ing. His "Endymion" is the finest of his serious poems. 
With some suggestions from Keats and from Landor, it 
stands forth with a power and beauty of its own, both in 
the thoughts and the form, which makes it more than a 
comment on Titian's picture of "Sacred and Profane Love." 
The next best poem in this volume is the "Epistle to George 
William Curtis," which, though a little puzzling in its chro- 
nology, as if a computation intended for 1887 had slipped 
back to 1874, is graceful and noble in its sentiment, and 
pays due homage to Longfellow and to Emerson, as well 
as to Curtis himself: 

How empty seems to me the populous street, 
One figure gone I daily loved to meet, -- 
The clear sweet singer with the crown of snow 
Not whiter than the thoughts that housed below! 
And oh, what absence feel I at my side, 
Like Dante when he missed his laureled guide, 
What sense of diminution in the air 
Once so inspiring, Emerson not there! 

The elegy on Agassiz has more of these allusions to Low- 
ell's friends, with fuller portraiture or glancing sketches 
of Emerson, Holmes, Hawthorne, Arthur Clough, Felton 
and others, but is not so faultlessly shaped, nor so free 
from those intrusions of fancy and over-refinement which 
run the bark of the Muses aground in shallower water than 
Poesy sails in best. This has ever been the defect of Low- 
ell's verse- -that it recalls us too often to prose--while the 
better poets float prose away into poetry, as Emerson and 
Shakespeare do perpetually. No collection of this author's 



verses has been so free from this fault as the present 
one, which is welcome to all that can read aright. 



(40) 

A CRITICAL EVALUATION OF MATTHEW ARNOLD 

ON AMERICA 

A voice has said unto me, as to the talkative Hebrews 
in the Old Testament, which Arnold was so incessantly 
quoting, "Write—about Matthew Arnold!" When I make 
answer that everybody else has done this until the subject 
is worn threadbare, the voice still goes on, intimating 
that although so much has been said it has not been very 
well said, and that in particular Arnold's parting shot at 
us, the uninteresting Americans, has not been warded off 
in the right way. Anger is no answer to such a criticism, 
still less is confession or apology any answer- -and sever- 
al Americans have wavered between anger and apology, or 
passed from the one to the other in a very hasty and undig- 
nified manner. I have long thought that amusement, or at 
least entertainment, was the surest outcome of Arnold's 
social and political essays--and that they were all the 
more amusing the more seriously he seemed to put his 
case and feel his vocation. This younger Arnold was not 
sent unto mankind as an apostle or a reformer, but as an 
entertainer. His mission was not to diffuse light, but 
lightness- -gayety of heart, with a certain after-sting, and 
a curious want of relation to the actual condition of things . 
Insight he had, but he lacked judgment; learning and grace 
were his, but not the persuasive mood; he could amuse 
and touch the chords of pathetic feeling, but he could also 
annoy, miss the mark, and provoke--and he was the most 
provoking when he most conspicuously missed the mark, 
because he shot so near and was so sure that he had 
pierced the heart of his subject. As a poet he has some 
special claims, and a certain union of grace and eleva- 
tion which no other modern poet except Emerson has 
shown, but even as a poet there is little to be said in 
Arnold's favor, after you have set aside three or four of 
his best pieces- -of which "Thyrsis" is by common con- 
sent the first. It cannot be said that his poems are amus- 
ing, they are seldom entertaining, but they have at their 
best a literary quality which will secure him a place 
among the poets of all the English centuries, so rich in 
verse of perennial worth. 

Arnold was engaged in many controversies of one sort 
and another; he had the fondness of a boy for throwing 
stones at windows- -and he had the English notion that to 
break a man's window is to inflict a valid retort upon him 
for something unpleasant in his conduct. But in all these 
controversies you will never find an opponent of Arnold 
who will admit that his side has been fairly stated by the 
stone-throwing critic. We do not admit it as Americans, 
though it is plain to see that he has hit some of our gross- 
er foibles as a nation. But the true spirit of the American 
people he has never fathomed- -any more than he fathomed 
the English Puritans or the modern dissenters. His taste 
was so offended by the traits of those he wrote against 
that he could never put himself in their places, and he 
had an innocent but quite invincible ignorance of facts 
that had never been stated in books, which accounts for 
many of his blunders . Even in books it was not the facts 



64 



which attracted his notice, it was rather the tone in which 
they came to him, or the impression his very sensitive 
mind took from them, that re -appeared in his statement; 
of their real bearing, in connection with other facts, di- 
verse or conflicting, he had hardly any appreciation. He 
did not hold his judgment in suspense, but followed his in- 
sight, which was keen rather than sure, and then rang the 
changes on the first notion that presented itself to his fanci- 
ful and analytic rather than sympathetic intelligence. As a 
reporter of things, save perhaps in his educational special- 
ty, he was very weak; as a recorder of impressions and a 
critic of literary work he was strong, but even as critic 
he had no very broad view of his subject, while he had the 
clerical or sermonizing gift of repeating and recurring to 
a text, which made his criticism forcible rather than just. 
It is not by hammering on one spot that the smith makes 
his iron equal and fit for any use; but many quaint forms 
can thus be shaped, and this is what Arnold did in criti- 
cism. The same fault, or merit, of incessant repetition 
appears in his poetry; he treated but few themes, and 
these with the same recurrence to familiar thoughts- - 
with a mannerism which did not indicate profundity, as 
mannerism sometimes may. But he had a power of de- 
scription and suggestion in verse, together with a seri- 
ousness that his prose seldom manifested, which give him 
a high place among contemporary poets of the second rank, 
and raise him far above those triflers in rhyme who have 
now succeeded to the position of English and American 
poets. 

The admirers and the revilers of Arnold both general- 
ly fail to see his true character, and this because, as he 
sometimes intimated, he was out of relation to his coun- 
try and his time. He had, indeed, the qualities of three 
nations- -the English narrowness without the firm hold on 
facts which ought to go with it, the French wit and ele- 
gance without amenity of manner, and the American 
"nervousness" or impressibility at the moment which 
gave him the appearance of breadth and comprehension 
in matters where his glance really took in only the sur- 
face of things. As a nation we Americans are superficial, 
and so, in spite of all his culture, was Matthew Arnold 
when off the ground of his own specialty. This is the ex- 
planation of his teasing failure to comprehend American 
civilization, of which in his later years some evil genius 
kept him perpetually prattling. He could only take in the 
surface of things in America, yet he was as confident be- 
fore he had ever been here that he understood us, as he 
was after his two or three visits, although those visits 
did, in fact, correct some of his earlier misapprehen- 
sions. Of civilization in its deeper significance, whether 
ours or that of other nations, Arnold knew little, as we 
may see by his definition of the word in his last essay, in 
which he wounded the sensibilities of his dear friend Smal- 
ley, and of so many other American inquirers after Eng- 
lish opinion. Setting aside his identical explanation of 
"civilization" as "the humanization of man in society, the 
satisfaction for him in society of the true law of human 
nature "--which in fact seems to mean everything and 
means nothing--let us come to Arnold's real definition-- 
that which he goes by in his criticism of us. Its common 
meaning is, he says, "a satisfaction, not of all the main 
demands of human nature, but of the demands for the com- 
forts and conveniences of life." Viewed in the light of this 



definition he condemns American civilization, and then 
naively says: "For all that large number of men, so 
prominent in England, and who make their voice so much 
heard, men who have been at the public schools and uni- 
versities, men of the professional and official class, men 
who do the most part of our literature and our journalism, 
America is not a comfortable place of abode." But who 
said it was? or why should it be? Does a great nation ex- 
ist and develop its civilization for the sake of a few thou- 
sand persons in another nation, or for its own sake? How 
surprised an Englishman would be if you could make him 
understand that his country was regarded as uncivilized 
because a few Frenchmen or Germans or Americans 
found it uncomfortable to live in! "Why don't they live in 
their own country then?" he would ask; and if he were an- 
swered that they liked to go to England for a few months 
in order to make a good deal of money, and must insist 
while doing this, that everything in England should be 
arranged to suit their tastes, --he would be paralyzed by 
the impudence of the suggestion. 

But Arnold proceeds to deny his own definition of civi- 
lization, and to set up another- -"It is best described," he 
says, "by the word interesting ." "Here is the extraordi- 
nary charm of the old Greek civilization, that it is so 
interesting , --and the great sources of the interesting 
are distinction and beauty." These terms again he de- 
fines as "that which is elevated (distinction), and that 
which is beautiful." It does not help us much to say that 
beauty is beautiful, and distinction may be elevation, and 
may not, --it is that which attracts notice, whether high 
or low. Beauty, for instance, is distinction, and con- 
spicuous crime is distinction, -- 

Great pirate Pompey lesser pirates quails. 

However, let us proceed from Arnold's faulty definitions 
to his pungent illustrations. Our American landscape in 
general is not interesting, the climate is "harsh and in 
extremes." Here certainly is "distinction" enough as 
respects climate- -if it is in extremes, we cannot have 
a dead level of climate, and therefore ought to be "inter- 
esting" in this respect. But, in fact, Arnold means com- 
fort and self-satisfaction all the time, and therefore de- 
spises our climate. As to the beauty of our landscape, 
we must tell him, or his executor, that he did not see it 
enough to form an opinion. He objects to the Chicago de- 
scription of himself, but it was certainly as true to the 
fact as his own account of our landscape and climate. 
Arnold, said the unflattering Chicago reporter, "has 
harsh features, supercilious manners, parts his hair 
down the middle, wears a single eye-glass, and ill- 
fitting clothes." Now this, for a momentary glance-- 
an instantaneous photograph- -is very exact. Arnold 
was not satisfied with it- -he did not see himself as oth- 
ers saw him, and it should have occurred to him that 
the people of a country may possibly know as much about 
himself. And it is not true in America, though Arnold 
has said it, that the American "who craves for the inter- 
esting in civilization, who requires for what surrounds 
him satisfaction for his sense of beauty, this sense for 
elevation, will feel the sky over his head to be of brass 
and iron." Educated Englishmen may feel this, German 
artists may feel it, but the true American does not. He 



65 



finds an interest in the elevation of what is below him to 
his own level or above him; he does not gratify his self- 
satisfaction by looking down on one class and up to another, 
as the Englishman almost invariably does, and as Arnold 
certainly did. Here is a source of interest that a poet and 
philosopher ought to recognize, but Arnold in this last es- 
say does not; and he draws upon himself the shrewd answer 
which Abraham Lincoln made to that precursor of Arnold 
who came to the White House during the civil war. "There 
are some things in America, Mr. President, that surprise 
me very much." "Indeed," said Lincoln, "for instance?" 
"In England no gentleman blacks his own boots." "Whose 
boots does he black?" was the reply, in which was involved 
the whole scheme of English civilization. 

Arnold seems to have thought that because he had vitu- 
perated his own countrymen, whom he described as "an 
upper class materialized, a middle class vulgarized, and 
a lower class brutalized," we ought therefore to submit 
patiently while he vituperated us. The logic was charac- 
teristic of him, but not convincing to enlightened Ameri- 
cans . We know how absurd this description was when ap- 
plied to a whole nation like England, and we understand 
the corresponding absurdity, and resent it with too much 
heat, when applied to us. In fact, the absurdity of the 
criticism in many points, and its truth in some few, ought 
to have made it both amusing and slightly instructive. On 
the other hand, the regretted death of Arnold ought not to 
make us overlook the absurdity or the pettiness of his 
criticisms, nor induce us to take the same serious view 
of his function as social and political reformer which he 
himself took. He had courage enough for that function, 
but it was the stone -throwing and window-breaking cour- 
age, and not the resolute, self-effacing spirit which was 
manifest in the Puritans whom he girded at, and in Wesley 
whom he would have disliked. Because Arnold had the 
pluck to scoff at the bishop of Gloucester, and put Lord 
Shaftesbury into the Trinity, and throw stones and fire- 
brands at the snug houses of the British Philistine, he 
seems to have assumed that America would welcome him 
in the same gay part of window- smasher, that he might 
speak disrespectfully of our landscape and our climate, 
and set Washington, Franklin and Lincoln aside as unin- 
teresting. Never was poor critic more mistaken, as he 
would have found out had he lived long enough to read 
those newspapers which he so loathed and which repre- 
sented to him the average American civilization. They 
would have given him "elevation," though they might have 
spoiled his "beauty," for, in their own expressive phrase, 
they would have "knocked him higher than a kite." They 
had begun to do it- -the New York Tribune first of all 
through its London correspondent when, as the Yankee 
said of his fiancee, Arnold "up and died." This consti- 
tuted a new grievance in our eyes, for we could not at- 
tack him satisfactorily under these circumstances. Alto- 
gether, Arnold has treated us rather unhandsomely. But 
we are heaping coals of fire upon his head- -metaphori- 
cally—by eulogizing him in newspapers and magazines, 
and by republishing in a convenient volume (as Cupples 
& Hurd of Boston have done) all his American essays, in- 
cluding the two on Grant and his Memoirs. "I too," said 
the great and critical Arnold, "had seen Gen. Grant in 
England, and did not find him interesting ." Gen. Lee 
and the rebels under his flag did, however, so that we 



may conclude there was "elevation" about our Ulysses 
Simpson, after all, though his name makes the fanciful 
Englishman 'think of Tristram Shandy." "How often," he 
adds, "do American names make one think of Tristram 
Shandy!" If our statesmen and soldiers and admirals had 
such classic names as "Harbottle Grimstone," "Bulstrode 
Whitelock," "Cloudesley Shovel," "Spring Rice," "Garnet 
Wolseley" and "Knatchbull-Hugessen," we should perhaps 
have stood better in Mr. Arnold's light estimation. How- 
ever, on the whole, Arnold thought well of Grant—which 
was a very good thing for Arnold, and some of the re- 
marks about him, though too patronizing, are well said, 
and with some small appreciation of what Grant had to do, 
and how he did it. But still Grant "had not the pathos and 
dignity of Lee," (partly because he whipped Lee), "he had 
not the fire, the celerity, the genial cordiality of Sher- 
man, whose person and manner emitted a ray, --Grant 
had not these." True, and neither had he the blind eye of 
Nelson, nor the clubfoot of Byron, nor the bottle-nose of 
Cromwell, nor the bald head of Julius Caesar. But why 
should he have the qualities of other men? his own quali- 
ties and features answered every purpose. It was this 
stupid trick of asking one great man to have the traits of 
another, and writing as if he had failed of his mission be- 
cause he did not, that made the good things said by Ar- 
nold, in his lecture on Emerson, seem so inadequate. 
If we should apply such a test to Arnold himself, where 
would his fame be? As it is, he has fame enough for the 
present, perhaps a little too much, as is natural with the 
recent dead; but time will cast his trivialities into obliv- 
ion, and preserve for the delight of mankind only those 
things which truly displayed the "sweetness and light" of 
which he was always saying more than there was occa- 
sion for. This Boston edition of his American papers 
will serve a good purpose, though it will keep alive the 
irritation which his nettles and pebble- stones of criticism 
were sure to excite wherever he aimed or wielded those 
boyish weapons . 



(41) 
BRONSON ALCOTT AND DR. NATHAN ALLEN- -- 
A CONTRAST 

Those who took part in the memorial service commemo- 
rating Mr. Alcott had many and various things to say, the 
other day at Concord--but all agreed in mentioning the re- 
markable persistency of the man. He said the same thing 
in age that he had said in youth and his intellectual per- 
sistency made up in good measure for his lack of intel- 
lectual variety, in which his friend Emerson far exceeded 
him. Uniformity was the characteristic of Alcott's mind, 
versatility of Emerson's- -the latter to a degree that is 
too little recognized in the criticism now current concern- 
ing Emerson. Firmness of will was more marked in Em- 
erson, and made him more inflexible than Alcott, but per- 
sistency of intellectual aim was much more the character- 
istic of the "Orphic poet," whom Emerson quoted in "Na- 
ture," and who was no other than Alcott. Indeed, it was 
Emerson who, as editor of the Dial, gave the name of 
"Orphic Sayings" to those sentences of Alcott which fur- 
nished so much amusement to the Boston Post in 1841-2. 
Dr. Harris read several of these at the Concord meeting, 



66 



and they no longer seemed dim or visionary, but clear and 
profound statements from one aspect of the world and of 
man, concerning his origin and destiny. For example, here 
is one "Orphic saying" of July, 1840: "God never organizes 
his attributes fully in single structures; he is instant, but 
never extant wholly in his works. Nature does not contain, 
but is contained in him; She is the memoir of his life, Man 
is a nobler scripture, yet fails to outwrite the Godhead; the 
universe does not reveal, eternities do not publish the mys- 
teries of his being. Both nature and man are ever making, 
never made." How this high spiritualism could be mistaken 
for Pantheism seems now incredible. Panhominism would 
have been a stricter definition of Alcott's view of Nature, 
between which and the Deity man stood as transmitting 
cause. In another place he says: "Man and Nature alike 
tend toward the Godhead; all seeming divergence is over- 
ruled by this omnipotent force, whose retributions restore 
universal order." 

At the opposite pole of theory and spiritual philosophy 
from Mr. Alcott stands Dr. Allen, the sanitarian and the 
critic of New England family life; but the same persistency 
of mind is seen in the Lowell physician as in the Concord 
philosopher. In his new volume of collected essays, pub- 
lished by Lee & Shepard of Boston, under the name of 
"Physical Development, or the Laws governing the Human 
System," Dr. Allen, who is now 75 years old, prints the 
thesis which he wrote on taking his medical degree 47 
years ago, and one can see on reading it, how closely he 
has clung to the central thought then put forward by the 
young medical man. He had phrenology in his mind in 
1841, though he does not say so; well, phrenology has had 
its day and passed by never to return in that form, but the 
fundamental idea of phrenology, that the brain determines 
thought and can itself be analyzed from the outside, is as 
strong in Dr. Allen's later essays as in this early one. 
He does not place the well written paper at the beginning 
of his volume, where it belongs in the order of time, but 
he leaves it standing in the latter half of the volume, be- 
tween "College Sports" and "The Normal Standard for 
Motherhood." This is one of the numerous examples of 
puzzling collocation in the volume, but the index, though 
not very full, will guide the reader to what he may wish 
to find in this interesting and valuable collection. One of 
the best single passages in it is that describing the four 
classes of medical men whose views the world need be in 
no hurry to accept; and this may be quoted entire: 

The inexorable years which youth never foresees have 
now brought the young physician who said this to that very 
period when age finds it hard or impossible to "canvass 
properly and rationally the merits of new discoveries," 
and there may be those who are inclined to turn Dr. Al- 
len's guns against himself, and declare that he holds to 
his own theories with the fixedness of age. But, in fact, 
Dr. Allen, like Mr. Alcott, has been in some things be- 
fore his age, and younger men are only now coming up 
with him, and recognizing the truth of what he has long 
been saying. The opinion by which he is best known is 
that which relates to the decreasing population of the na- 
tive New England stock, in consequence of the smaller 
families of this century as compared with those of the 
17th and 18th centuries. Dr. Allen began to point out 
this tendency to small families of children among the 



people of New England, long before most people saw it, 
or were willing to confess it. Many disputed his facts, 
and many more disputed his conclusions; but now his 
facts are almost universally admitted, and there are 
thousands who accept his conclusions. Like Dr. Earle 
on his demonstration of the slight curability of existing 
insanity, Dr. Allen has found unwilling listeners; but he 
has converted or silenced them. He does not bring to 
his demonstration the logical method and patient accumu- 
lation of detailed evidence in which Dr. Earle excels; but 
he iterates and reiterates the fact or the principle until 
it sinks deep into the hearer's mind. This is his merit 
as a writer—that he sees what he wishes to prove, and 
though he does not always see how to prove it, yet he 
contrives to make his reader of his own opinion, at least 
in part, before he leaves him. 

The questions treated by Dr. Allen are all important 
ones --education, sanitation, sanity, the continuance of 
the human race under good conditions --and he approaches 
them with the stored-up, almost incommunicable knowl- 
edge of an old physician who has seen every form of hu- 
man disease and suffering. This wide experience makes 
his propositions indefinite, one fact is qualified by an- 
other, and the statement that might have been positive 
is shaded off into a doubt. But upon one point, one whole 
range of subjects, there is no expression of doubt, but 
the highest confidence and belief. It is that man can bet- 
ter his own condition. . . . 

The style of Dr. Allen is peculiar and unexpected. 
Every now and then we come upon remarks that have the 
cast of originality, although the general effect of these 
essays is that of a compilation from other authors and 
from his own abundant writings of the past 50 years . 
Thus he says in the chapter on vital statistics, "So im- 
portant are the mere date and place of birth and death 
regarded, that they constitute almost the only memorials 
placed upon the casket at burial, or upon the tablet which 
marks the spot where the body finally rests." This is a 
striking observation from its very simplicity- -and there 
are many such. There is no lack, however, of that ex- 
altation of his subject which the specialist ought to pro- 
duce, and which leads Dr. Allen to say at the end of his 
essay on intermarriage, "We have as yet only reached 
the threshold, the vestibule, of the temple of the science 
of man, --with which, in point of actual value and utility, 
the sublime truths of astronomy and the more wonderful 
revelations of geology sink into comparative insignifi- 
cance." 

A much older laborer in the great field of sanitation, 
Edwin Chadwick, now 87 years of age, has lately pub- 
lished one of his sensible papers in England, from which 
an extract may be taken. Speaking of the indifference 
with which men in the English government regard sani- 
tary laws and measures, he says: 

The first class may be characterized as possessing 
very strong observing faculties, with deficient reflective 
intellect; these may observe, collect and understand facts 
to any amount, but can never perceive or comprehend the 
force of principles, because they are naturally deficient 
in the powers of analysis and ratiocination. Wherever 
general principles are concerned, this class are not, 



67 



therefore, competent judges. The second class possess 
minds of a directly opposite character, having strong re- 
flective faculties but weak perceptive intellects; such indi- 
viduals are not much given to observation themselves, nei- 
ther can they appreciate the importance, or see the bear- 
ing, of facts in reasoning. They are inclined to dwell al- 
most exclusively upon general principles and abstract re- 
lations, and not infrequently become very speculative and 
theoretical in their views. Consequently, their opinions on 
all practical subjects must be received with much caution. 
The third class may be described as possessing, naturally, 
such an inordinate degree of self-conceit and tenacity of 
will as to render them blindly obstinate and wilfully set in 
their own way. They are always self-opinionated and un- 
willing to examine new subjects, or alter any views which 
have long been entertained; and when their minds are once 
made up no force of argument, or amount of evidence, will 
induce them to change or modify their opinions, simply be- 
cause they will not be convinced. In the fourth class we 
would include those who are considerably advanced in life, 
and whose habits and modes of thinking have become so 
fixed and settled as to run almost necessarily in one circle 
or channel. Such are the nature and organization of the 
brain, on which the exercise of every mental faculty de- 
pends, that it is very hard, if not impossible, for elderly 
persons to canvass properly and rationally the merits of 
new discoveries. 

When it has been remarked to me that they had serious 
misgivings about the operation of sanitary measures, and 
had deep, though latent convictions against interfering, as 
they assumed, with the "natural checks" as expounded by 
Matthews, on the pressure of population and on the means 
of subsistence, my answer has been that experience shows, 
since Matthews wrote, that the pressure of population on 
the means of subsistence has diminished instead of in- 
creased. I take the example of Lancashire, where the 
population at the beginning of the century, when Matthews 
wrote, was half a million. It is now more than 3, 500, 000. 
Now it may be taken as an economical principle that the 
fact of an artisan being employed at wages denotes that, 
over and above his own means of subsistence, he earns 
enough to yield a profit to the capitalist who employs him; 
and the continued advance of wages denotes a continued 
diminution of the pressure of that population on the means 
of subsistence. The experiences are that wages, since 
Matthews wrote, have in Lancashire been more than dou- 
bled. 

The veteran having thus disposed of one of the false ter- 
rors which was used to frighten mankind in his youth, 70 
years ago, goes on to speak of what has happened in 1887. 
"During the last year there have been glimpses of the light 
of our science breaking in upon the dense political igno - 
rance so generally prevalent" (where do you suppose, good 
American reader?) "as in the heavily death-rated cities of 
the United States , where there is only a very shortened 
life to emigrants, and where of all born of the emigrant's 
children, about one-half will be in their grave by their 
fifth year." This is one of the facts which qualify Dr. Al- 
len's superior birth-rate among these children of foreign 
parentage born in New England; for although many such 
children are born, less than half of them grow up, while 
the mortality is much less among children of American 



parentage. Mr. Chadwick then says that he has suggest- 
ed at Washington that our national surplus shall be used 
to some extent in relieving the sanitary condition of our 
people- -a plank which I wonder not to find in the Chicago 
platform .... 



(42) 
ADIN THAYER: THE TRIBUTE OF AN OLD FRIEND 

The friends, personal and political, of the late Adin 
Thayer can hardly choose to remember him as the judge 
on the bench—though he was an upright and downright 
magistrate. 

In Israel's courts ne'er sat an Abethdin 
With more discerning eyes or hands more clean, 
Unbribed, unsought, the wretched to redress, 
Swift of dispatch and easy of access . 

No, we shall recall him in those earlier days of political 
activity when the good old cause had not yet decayed into 
the "grand old party"--when Sumner and Andrew, Bird 
and Robinson were leaders; and our opponents were the 
champions of every arrogant monopoly and every time- 
worn abuse- -from slave-holding and slave-hunting down 
to a vested interest in every deposit of political power in 
the United States. It was as a radical rather than a con- 
servative that our friend won his spurs; though like all 
wise radicals, he was conservative of everything that 
ought to be conserved. His more conspicuous service 
as the leader of honest men against a knavish political 
adventurer was important, but in a certain sense obliga- 
tory, for he with others had given Butler the certificate 
of party fidelity upon which he traded when he made his 
repeated attempts at sovereign power. The earlier cam- 
paigns were more glorious, because the foeman was more 
formidable, and more firmly entrenched. 

Partisans and even philosophers of the present day 
cannot realize to themselves the contests of the anti- 
slavery crusade, opening as it did a fellowship with all 
movements for freedom at home and abroad, in social, 
ecclesiastical and civil affairs. Harnessed for the strife 
of modern parties, the partisan who had a share on those 
earlier struggles feels like David in Saul's armor, and 
prefers the sling and the stone of the young shepherd, who 
saw his big antagonist before him, and knew he could not 
hit him in the wrong place. Some of this individual method 
of warfare clung to the party leader of recent days, though 
he had great skill in organizing his forces, and knew how 
to foretell and secure the victory. 

The personal friendships of "Adin," as we loved to call 
him, were warm and constant; and so were his personal 
animosities. It was this warmth of spirit which, working 
upon failing health and amid some annoyances, at last, 
after years of struggle against gloomy fancies, broke 
down the balance of his strong mind, and left him open to 
the fate that has now befallen him . Peace to that much- 
harassed soul which had so long inspired an ill-matched 
body for the tasks of political reform, good citizenship 
and national regeneration. F. B. S. 

Concord, August 3, 1888. 



68 



THE LATE AD IN THAYER 



The sad death of that early and devoted free-soiler, and 
aggressive leader of the old guard of republicanism in Mas- 
sachusetts, Adin Thayer, will shock all who knew the man, 
but near friends have not been without knowledge that the 
judge was dying at the top; and his condition has been the 
source of anxiety for several years. The fact that there 
had been insanity in his family accounts for the depres- 
sion that has now deepened and then partially lifted as he 
seemed worse or better, and finally oppressed him to the 
point of taking his own life. 

As an honest man, a self-sacrificing friend of freedom, 
an able political manager and an almost fanatical partisan, 
Adin Thayer of Worcester will be long remembered. It 
was in politics that the best and most abiding work of his 
life was done, and in that field, as an organizer and direc- 
tor of political forces, he was a leader among politicians. 
Perhaps the state has never produced the superior of Adin 
Thayer in the arena where his achievements were great- 
est, and when the leadership of the republican party was 
strongest and best he was at the front. 

Adin Thayer was born at Mendon, December 4, 1828, 
and he inherited from his father, Caleb Thayer, a farmer 
and early abolitionist, the anti-slavery views that gave 
him the greatest impulse of his life. He went to the vil- 
lage school, studied in Worcester academy and in West- 
field, and then taught school. He studied law with the late 
Judge Henry Chapin of the Worcester probate court, and 
was admitted to the bar in 1855. But the encroachments 
of the slave power, and the discussions that gave birth to 
the free -soil movement interested the young man quite as 
much as the law, and he enlisted against slavery with all 
the ardor of a strong nature. It was an unpopular cause, 
and Adin Thayer was of those who helped sustain Rev. 
Thomas W. Higginson in an independent pulpit after his 
free-soil sentiments had given offense to the Unitarian 
parish over which he had been settled. Young Thayer 
joined his future with that of Sumner, Garrison, Wilson 
and Andrew, and assisted at the birth of the republican 
party. He early came to know as well Frank Bird and 
Alanson W. Beard, and the closeness of their friendship 
was never disturbed. Adin Thayer was always a welcome 
guest at the Bird club dinners, where patron saint and 
guest could agree to disagree in politics. Messrs. Thayer 
and Bird laid the plans which resulted in the nomination of 
Charles Sumner for senator by the republican state con- 
vention of 1862, and we believe that Messrs. Thayer and 
Beard claim the credit of having discovered John A. An- 
drew and introduced him into politics. 

It was as an uncompromising opponent of Butlerism that 
Adin Thayer did his most effective work for the republican 
party, and he never yielded an inch to the demands of Gen. 
Butler and his followers. In planning to thwart Butler, and 
in open warfare against him, Mr. Thayer was indefatigable 
and successful. In the fight of 1871 he was foremost, and 
when Thomas Talbot defeated "the old man" in 1878 Adin 
Thayer was the untiring chairman of the state central com- 
mittee . It was a campaign conducted with masterly skill 
and a thoroughness of detail such as the state had not be- 
fore seen. It is well known that Judge Thayer was more 
successful as a manager of men and of political forces 
than as a lawyer, and his record at the bar was not notable. 



Mr. Thayer was made senator in 1870, and was re- 
elected the following year; but that was the extent of his 
legislative service. He would have been glad of a seat 
in Congress, but the antagonisms engendered by his posi- 
tive qualities blocked the way. He was intolerant of oppo- 
sition and of rivalry in the field where he excelled . In 
city affairs he was influential, his business interests were 
considerable, while his control of the party organization 
in the county was scarcely disputed until Mr. Bates came 
to the front. When Judge Chapin died in November, 1878, 
Gov. Alexander H. Rice made Mr. Thayer judge of pro- 
bate against the protest of leading local lawyers . He 
proved to be a satisfactory official, though his active 
participation in politics gave ground for criticism. It 
was not to be wondered at that Judge Thayer could not 
abandon the habit of a life time, or that he failed to fol- 
low the unwritten law which removes the incumbent of a 
judicial office from current politics . During the war 
Adin Thayer was internal -revenue collector, an office 
which he resigned after the assassination of President 
Lincoln. 

The personal appearance of the man was an index to 
his character. He was short and solidly built, with an 
aggressive head and face, and a manner that was firm 
and assertive rather than conciliatory. The republican 
party was his idol, its purposes were to his mind the 
embodiment of right, and its enemies or its critics were 
alike obnoxious and unworthy of toleration. His mental 
temper was that of the unyielding puritan, and his devo- 
tion to the interests of his party was entire and unflag- 
ging. In any stress that threatened it he was wont to pen 
confidential appeals to the clergymen of the state with 
absolute confidence that all of them must think as he did. 
He carried methods of sterner times into the changed 
conditions of to-day with no thought that the party of Sum- 
ner and Andrew could depart from the lines along which 
it had won those triumphs which were the chief distinction 
of his life as well as of theirs. But as a whole, despite 
mistakes of temper and of judgment that were never ap- 
parent to him, Adin Thayer was a power for good in his 
day and generation. Men will think of him kindly and re- 
gretfully to-day. 



(43) 
JOTTINGS FROM CONCORD- --WINTER ASPECT 
OF A FAMOUS TOWN 

Those who have only seen Concord in summer or in 
autumn when it assumes its gentlest and most enticing 
aspect, and invites the visitor to green meadows and pine 
woods, or to boating and bathing in river and pond, would 
be struck with its bare and austere look in winter, before 
the snow has come to conceal the desolation of frost and 
the colors of decay. The river just now is the most promi- 
nent feature of the landscape, for it not only circles nine 
times round the village as Thoreau said (likening it to the 
Styx), but it has risen in a flood like the Nile, and covers 
a good portion of the flat acres which make up the town- 
ship. It was never known to be so high before in Decem- 
ber- -its main freshets being in early spring or in June, 
sometimes at the end of winter, when the snow melts be- 
fore the ice breaks up. The boating in mild days is still 



69 
good, but the swift current and the high water makes it dif- 
ficult to pass the numerous bridges that span the stream . 
In the village many houses are closed for the winter- - 
among them the Old Manse, the best known of all, the Tho- 
reau house where the Alcorts lived before the family moved 
to Boston to die, and the home of French, the sculptor, who 
has opened a new one in New York since his marriage. The 
school of philosophy is also closed in Concord --having been 
opened but once this year, to commemorate Mr. Alcott- - 
but, like the Concord grape, this school has been domesti- 
cated all over the country, and holds sessions in Boston, 
in New York, in Chicago, and wherever one or two of the 
Concord philosophers show themselves. In winter this ar- 
rangement is the best — for cities furnish a more commodi- 
ous, if less arcadian, meeting-place than the vine-covered 
chapel at the Orchard house, where Prof. Harris now oc- 
cupies the study of Bronson Alcott. 

The Boston university on Beacon hill has opened its 
doors to Prof. Harris, and he begins there this week a 
course of lectures on these topics: 

1- -Introspection as contrasted with external sense- 
perception. The objects of each: (a) Things and events 
with environments; (b) self-activity as seen in plants, ani- 
mals and human beings, --reaction on environment. 

2--Mental pictures versus general ideas; Images versus 
definitions; External appearance versus function or inter- 
nal causal process. Forms of the mind; Ideas of space, 
time, being, cause, and soul. 

3 --The logical constitution of sense-perception. How 
the three logical 'Figures of the syllogism" furnish the 
forms of external experience. 

4--Physiological psychology. Its methods and its re- 
sults. Preyer's "Soul of the Child." 

5--The psychology of the course of study, (a) The psy- 
chology of mathematics and the quantitative natural sci- 
ences; (b) The psychology of esthetics, --literature, fine 
arts, the principles of taste, the idea of the beautiful as 
ornament or as work of art; (c) The psychology of ethics; 
the cardinal institutions of man; moral education and the 
study of history. 

The frequenter of the Concord school will recognize here 
the familiar themes, with some new ones, and combined 
in a new arrangement — psychology being the main subject, 
but all philosophy coming in as an atmosphere. The lec- 
tures will come on the 5th, 7th, 12th, 14th and 19th of 
December, closing in time to allow Prof. Harris to meet 
his colleagues of the Concord school, Messrs. Davidson 
and Snider, at Chicago, where Aristotle, Dante, Goethe 
and other topics will be treated by them singly or in 
groups. The place in Boston is Sleeper hall in Somerset 
street, and the hour 4. p.m. The same subjects have 
been treated by Prof. Harris in parlor lectures at Boston 
this season, and he also repeats these to a select parlor 
audience in Concord, where the club fashion that rages in 
Boston is likewise prevalent. Concord, like Boston, has 
its Saturday club, before which this week W. L. Garrison 
reads a paper on China. Of another club I will speak pres- 
ently. Prof. Davidson sometimes addresses these clubs 
in summer, but he has already gone to Chicago to give 
five lectures in a theater there on Aristotle, St. Thomas, 
Bonaventura, Dante and Savonarola- -abstruse topics, 



Bostonians are apt to think, for Chicago. But, in truth, 
there is as large an audience there for such lectures as 
in Boston. Mr. Snider has established himself in Chicago, 
where he lectures on Goethe this month, and he has not 
visited Concord of late. 

The old-fashioned village lyceum flourishes in this 
town, after an existence of nearly 60 years, during which 
Emerson lectured more than 100 times to its audiences. 
These are still numerous, although it takes something 
more lively than a lecture on "Education" or "The Steam 
Engine" to draw them out on a winter evening. A great 
man or an eloquent speaker will do it, but I doubt if they 
would gather now to hear a lecture of Edward Everett's 
read by another person. I have before me a letter written 
by Mr. Everett in November, 1830, to old Dr. Ripley, re- 
gretting that he could not keep his promise to lecture, but 
adding: "To obviate, as far as possible, the inconvenience 
which the failure might cause the Lyceum, I send you the 
lecture which I should have delivered. It is one which I 
have delivered twice before, but my health has prevented 
me from preparing another. Although in print, as you 
see, it has not been published. I held it back from pub- 
lication to enable me with propriety to deliver it at Con- 
cord. Should you think it worth while to have it read at 
the meeting, it is at your service for that purpose; and 
should this be done, I would suggest, as it is one hour 
and three quarters long , that some parts should be omit- 
ted." Whether this was done, tradition does not say. But 
the villagers now omit some part of the lecture course, 
which used to run from October to April, but now begins 
in November and ends before March. Even in this short- 
ened period, concerts, dramatic entertainments and the 
stereopticon come in to banish the formal lecture once a 
week, which used to be the fashion. Gov. Long has given 
here this winter his "Abraham Lincoln," and this week a 
certain George R. Wending lectures on "Stonewall Jack- 
son," whose lovely daughter came here for a day, from 
North Carolina a few years ago. In former days the in- 
terest in the course centered in Emerson's annual ad- 
dress. Few Concordians will forget that gentle presence 
at the desk, or how the speaker's face lit up as he threw 
forth some precious bit of thought, or gave his hearers 
a flash of lively humor. No one now can fill his place, 
though a pleasant old lyceum custom is still more or less 
kept up--to invite some Concord man who has traveled 
widely or has got out a book, or otherwise distinguished 
himself in some way, to lecture for the enlightenment of 
his fellow-citizens. 

Art seems to be superseding literature in Concord; 
for Emerson's son, like Alcott's youngest daughter, has 
become an artist, and there are other talents of the same 
sort among the present generation. May Alcott set the 
fashion 20 years ago, and French and Elwell, the sculp- 
tors, were, in one sense, her pupils, for she gave them 
an impulse toward art. It is nine years since she died in 
Paris, and the other day her husband was here to claim 
his little girl and take her to Switzerland. Dr. Emerson 
gave up his profession to follow art six years ago, and 
French has been famous as a sculptor for more than twice 
as long. He was here in October and November, and con- 
trived to do some of his best work before his departure 
for New York. Notable among his successes is the bust 
of the dead son of W. H. Forbes of Milton, who was a 



70 



grandson of Mr. Emerson. The sculptor had never seen 
the lad, to his knowledge, but he had observed the family 
type, and with the aid of photographs and this previous ob- 
servation, he obtained a remarkable likeness, . , . 

Village biography is a form of literature cultivated here; 
for the "Social Circle," an ancient club of 25, which has ex- 
isted since 1782, has the custom of requiring a memoir of 
each member after his death, to be written by some other 
member who knew him, or has investigated his life. . .and 
now the club is printing another volume. . .in which 30 mem- 
oirs will appear, the longest being a new biography of Em- 
erson. . . . Neither does this volume propose to be public, 
but it will be in print, and therefore will find its way to the 
public in one fashion or another. As most of the sketches 
were written confidentially, this semi-publicity is likely 
to defeat their original intention; but the "decay of reti- 
cence," as an English newspaper calls the prevailing fash- 
ion among men, has proceeded so far that private citizens 
see no harm in blazoning privacy to the world . Our defense 
is that where everything is published little is remembered, 
and the man whose father was hanged finds that the world 
knows no more, five years afterward, about his family af- 
fairs, than about the ancestry of the forgotten Pharaohs. A 
slight impression may flit across the memory, but whether 
your friend's father was a felon or a martyr, who can say? 



(44) 

EMERSON, HAWTHORNE AND DELIA BACON'S 

HYPOTHESIS 

December 2 was the anniversary of John Brown's death, 
and I gave some part of it to the reading of a book which, 
in its earlier pages, recalled the youthful career of Brown. 
This is "Delia Bacon, a Biographical Sketch" published by 
Houghton and written by Theodore Bacon of Rochester, 
N.Y., a nephew of the unfortunate lady commemorated by 
him . The reader will unexpectedly (if he does not first 
read some notice of the book, as we hope he will — giving 
the preference to this one), find it a volume of rare and 
pathetic interest, and it will throw new luster on the names 
of Emerson and Hawthorne and Carlyle as patrons of merit 
unbefriended . But what first attracted my notice was the 
fact that Delia Bacon was born at Tallmadge in Ohio, not 
far from where John Brown was then going to school (in 
1811), and where Rev. David Bacon, her father, was going 
through the financial experiences which beset John Brown 
20 years afterward- -the loss of his property and the in- 
cumbrance of debt by the failure of a new town to "materi- 
alize" in time to reimburse his investments. The town 
was Tallmadge, in David Bacon's case--named for the 
Connecticut guardsman who served under Washington- - 
and laid out by Bacon himself about the time Owen Brown, 
the father of John, was setting up his tannery in the neigh- 
boring town of Hudson. Dr. Bacon of New Haven, his eld- 
est son, had been born at Detroit in 1802--two years after 
John Brown was born in Connecticut- -and David Bacon him- 
self was born at Woodstock, Ct. , whence came the father 
of Dr. Holmes, and also old Dr. Ripley of Concord, who 
became by marriage the grandfather of Waldo Emerson. 
Thus the threads of ancestry connect the New England 
literary men oddly together. 

David Bacon died in Connecticut, burdened with debt, 



in 1817, and his bright little daughter was brought up in 
Hartford by one of her father's friends, Judge Williams, 
where she was taught by Miss Catherine Beecher and was 
a schoolmate of Mrs . Stowe . At 1 years old she wrote 
to her brother Leonard: "Your sister has resisted the 
Holy Spirit and He has departed from me. Cease not to 
pray for me. I have neglected the offers of salvation; I 
have despised my dear Redeemer; but still there is mercy 
with him who is able to save." At the age of 14 she joined 
the church in Hartford, and when she was 16 began to teach 
a girls' school in Southington. A few years later she taught 
a school at Jamaica, on Long Island, where John A. King, 
then newly returned from the court of St. James, where he 
had been secretary of legation to Mr. Gallatin, was one of 
her patrons; but this enterprise failed, as the Connecticut 
school had. She then taught in other persons' schools, 
among others one in Penn Yan (objecting strongly to the 
name), and finally made a career for herself as a lectur- 
er on history and literature in Hartford, New Haven, New 
York, Cambridge and Boston. In the last-named city she 
made the acquaintance of Mrs. John Farrar, who after- 
ward befriended her in England, and who has described 
her in "Recollections of Seventy Years" --so well known 
to the people of Springfield. By 1852 she had formed, at 
least in shadowy outline, her skepticism about Shake- 
speare, and communicated it to Mr. Emerson at Con- 
cord, who wrote to her in praise of her powers, but in 
distrust of her result. "I value these fine weapons," he 
said, "far above any special use they may be put to. You 
will have need of enchanted instruments, nay, alchemy, 
itself, to melt into one identity these two reputations 
(shall I call them?), the poet and the statesman" (Shake- 
speare and Bacon), "both hitherto solid historical fig- 
ures." Moreover, he gave her most judicious advice, 
which she, poor woman, was quite incapable of heeding. 
"So radical a revolution should be proclaimed with great 
compression in the declaration, and the real grounds 
pretty rapidly set forth, preliminary generalities quite 
omitted. For there is an immense presumption against 
it which is to be annihilated by battery as fast as possi- 
ble." 

The encouragement given by Emerson, who first men- 
tioned the matter to Hawthorne in March, 1853, and gave 
Miss Bacon a letter to Putnam, then publishing his maga- 
zine in New York, seems to have determined her to go to 
England for the prosecution of her researches; and thither 
she went in May, 1853, carrying letters from Emerson to 
Carlyle, to James Martineau, to Spedding, the editor of 
Bacon, and perhaps to Arthur Helps. In writing to Putnam 
Mr. Emerson said: "I can really think of nothing that 
would give such eclat to a magazine as this brilliant para- 
dox" — which exactly describes his constant feeling in re- 
gard to Miss Bacon's preposterous theory. But toward 
her he felt something of that magnanimous admiration 
which he had earlier bestowed on Margaret Fuller; and 
no two patrons of scholarship, from Augustus and Mae- 
cenas to Eben Jordan and John Wanamaker, ever treated 
poor author more handsomely than Emerson and Haw- 
thorne constantly treated Miss Bacon. Carlyle also, who 
could be so posthumously ill-natured, was all kindness 
for her--as witness his letters of 1853. In one he says: 
"I yesterday delivered your Paper to Parker, the pub- 
lisher of Fraser's Magazine, --with such a testimony 



71 



about it as you desired; name, country, sex, all is left 
dark; and Parker's free judgment of the MSS., 'Fit for Era- 
ser or not fit?' is the one thing he is requested to deliber- 
ate upon and then pronounce to us. We will not anticipate 
his verdict, he is a clever little fellow (our 'clever* and 
yours too, I believe) and his voice will in some consider- 
able degree represent for us that of the 'reading public' of 
England." Four months after he writes again from Lady 
Ashburton's "Grange, "--"Some days before leaving I re- 
ceived from Parker a parcel, it contained your MSS and 
an open letter to Miss Bacon, full of the due civility, ad- 
miring, regretting, etc . , and in fine returning the offered 
Paper . I found that the smallest urging on my part would 
have made him insert the piece; but this you had prohibit- 
ed." Still better is a long letter of Carlyle's in October, 
1854, mainly about London lodgings for Miss Bacon--the 
better part of which I will quote as some antidote to the 
bitter ravings of Carlyle against philanthropy at times: 

My wife cannot by any means recollect the least par- 
ticular of Mrs. Spring's address at Hampstead, though 
she was once there and saw the place with her eyes. How- 
ever, she assures me it would have done nothing for your 
present enterprise; it was a place let (unfurnished with 
servants) as a whole house; was very dear, and also (as 
is thought) very dirty, --not at all like what you require. 
Other lodgings, no doubt, are abundant in Hampstead, 
especially at this season of the year; but neither of us 
here knows specially of any, nor can Jane bethink her- 
self at once of any person whom she could confidently 
consult on the matter. I myself do at this moment call 
to mind a certain Mrs. Dr. Wilkinson, an accomplished 
American lady withal, and wife of an accomplished and 
truly superior man, who lives in that neighborhood, not 
quite in Hampstead, but on this side of it, --to whom I 
would offer you an introduction if you went toward that 
region. Hampstead is very airy, and has still a set of 
silent country walks, though the bricklayer is fearfully 
busy there, too, in these last years; you could have no 
real difficulty in getting a cleanly, honest and tolerable 
lodging there; the worst fault I know is that of the water; 
very hard, all of it, from the chalk; which fault, however, 
applies only to the Hill or Old Village, as I suppose. Nay, 
indeed, there is no pure water to be had in this big Babylon 
itself, for all its wealth and faculty; the Queen herself has 
to drink dirty water (as I often think) when she favors us 
with her company. So extremely wise a set of "success- 
ful men" are we hitherto, in these parts. Of lodgings 
about Chelsea, or indeed, in all quarters urban and sub- 
urban, Jane thinks there can be no doubt of ample choice 
on every hand; and she will very gladly help whenever you 
embark on such a search. Her notion, in which I entirely 
agree, is at present, that whenever you decide on a re- 
moval, you are simply to leave your things all packed at 
St. Albans, and come off at once to the vacant room I told 
you of as waiting to welcome you here, --therefrom to in- 
stitute whatever search your fancy and judgment point to, 
under the favorablest auspices . This really is the wisest 
and also the easiest; confess that it is, O you of little 
faith, and do it. 

Although Miss Bacon did not accept this invitation 
to visit the Carlyles, yet to give it and to take so much 



thought for her, when he was in the midst of his dismal 
work with Frederick, was a most sympathetic thing. 
About the same time (November 20, 1854), Emerson 
wrote to her: "Though I think your hypothesis more in- 
credible than the improbable traditions it would supplant, 
yet you cannot maintain any side without shedding light 
on the first of all literary problems. Carlyle, too, I 
found, with decided interest and respect, had no faith in 
the paradox." The next year he induced Phillips & Samp- 
son to offer to publish her book, giving her 10 per cent 
royalty on all after the first edition apparently; and of 
these publishers (who began the Atlantic Monthly a few 
years later) he says: "They may seem to you timid, but 
they are as brave as their experience allows them to be. 
Such is the advertising system under which they live, and 
the giving away of copies to every newspaper, that it 
costs them $150. I think they showed me — before a sin- 
gle copy is sold- -for this expense alone, and they have 
been losers by many books." Carlyle, upon this offer 
from America, gave Miss Bacon the following testimonial 
for use in England: 

Miss Delia Bacon, an American lady of much worth 
and earnestness of mind, has devoted a great deal of 
serious study to Shakespeare, and believes herself to 
have made a singular and important discovery in regard 
to the history or origin of his works. To perfect this 
discovery she came over to England about two years ago, 
introduced and recommended by some of the best people 
in America; and here she has been ever since, working 
in the most earnest, unwearied manner. I have not my- 
self examined or seen Miss B. 's present MS. , but I can 
freely bear witness in general that she writes in a clear, 
elegant, ingenious and highly readable manner; that she 
is a person of definite ideas, of conscientious veracity 
in thought as well as in word, and that probably no book 
written among us during these two years has been more 
seriously elaborated and in all ways made the best of, 
than this of hers . 

There is indeed something readable, and almost Car- 
lylese, in what she soon wrote to Emerson concerning 
an article on Fraser about Shakespeare: 

The author claims Shakespeare as the true English 
type, frankly confessing it is on that very account that 
the English cling to him so fondly- -the fact being that 
the poet fell a victim to this national characteristic at 
last; for his poetry was so successful, and his good 
things came in upon him so fast on his retirement at 
Stratford, and so much beyond his individual faculty of 
appropriating them, that he sank under it and died of 
overeating, actually perished by the judgment of God in 
an attempt to get the worth of his poetry in the only shape 
he could appreciate it. And it is on account of the very 
quality which finally assumed this consummate form in 
him that his memory is embalmed in the grateful recol- 
lections of his countrymen, — so this Fraser man says 
outright. It is not his poetry that they admire--it is his 
character. Anacreon died of a grape stone. We have 
not the particulars here , but I suppose it was roast beef, 
probably, or plum pudding, which put an end to this god 
of the English idolatry in the midst of his career, and 



72 
prevented our having any more Macbeths, or Lears, or 
Tempests . 

All this time Miss Bacon was struggling with poverty 
and debt. She had cut herself off from her family in Ameri- 
ca because of some sharp, cold unbelief in her discoveries 
which her brother, Dr. Leonard Bacon, had poured upon 
her. She kept them in ignorance of her condition, and for 
years did not communicate with them. One would think 
they might have found some way to keep her supplied with 
money, so that her own hunger should not have embittered 
her sarcasm on John Bull's fondness for good provender; 
but it was hard to deal with her touchy pride. Now when 
prosperity seemed to smile upon her a little, she opened 
herself to Hawthorne, then our consul at Liverpool, and 
through him obtained some pecuniary aid. She also found 
him a little more friendly to her delusion about Bacon— 
"monomania," Hawthorne called it--than either Carlyle 
or Emerson; and when Emerson had to inform her that 
his messenger had lost one of her manuscripts (of which 
she had foolishly kept no copy), and that she must furnish 
some proof of her discovery before she called herself a 
"discoverer," she cast Emerson off as a friend and made 
Hawthorne her sole reliance. By and by she treated him 
in the same fashion, as her delusions increased, but nei- 
ther Hawthorne nor Emerson gave up their care for her. 
When Emerson had to communicate to Dr. Bacon, in Feb- 
ruary, 1853, the fact that his poor sister was in an Eng- 
lish lunatic asylum, not far from Stratford (at Henley in 
Arden), his letter was all that the most generous of men 
could have written. Here it is, in full: 

Dr. Leonard Bacon , Dear Sir :- -I have just received 
from Mrs. Flower of Stratford on Avon the inclosed note 
which I hasten to forward to you. I could heartily wish 
that I had very different news to send you of a person who 
has high claims on me, and on all of us who love genius 
and elevation of character. These qualities have so shown 
in Miss Bacon, that whilst their present eclipse is the 
greater calamity, it seems as if the care of her, in these 
present distressing circumstances, ought not to be at pri- 
vate, but at the public charge of scholars and friends. If 
of learning and truth, I can serve you in any manner in 
relation to her, you will please command to me. With 
great respect, R. W. Emerson 

Mr. Bacon, who edits this pathetic biography, seems 
to disparage Emerson in comparison with Hawthorne, for 
his services to the poor enthusiast; and he quotes a phrase 
of his father's which has an odd sound in this connection. 
"Dr. Bacon wrote to Hawthorne concerning his sister's visit 
to England in 1853. Mr. Emerson, I believe, fitted her 
out with some credentials and valuable letters of introduc- 
tion—partly, I doubt not, in that wonderful 'good nature' 
which is so prominent a feature in his character—partly, 
I suspect , in the special sympathy which he has in what - 
ever is unbelief ." Had the Connecticut Calvinist known 
Emerson better, he would have known that his sympathies 
were with belief, not with unbelief; and that it was because 
Delia Bacon had great faith and great self-sacrifice that 
he valued her. She died at last in the Hartford retreat, to 
which her nephew brought her from Henley, and she is bur- 
ied in New Haven, near the other regicides. She struck at 



the king of poesy, but failed to kill him; she did it, how- 
ever, in the fancy that he was a groom who had stolen 
the royal robes; and as Hawthorne said, Shakespeare 
pardoned her the noble error. . . . 



(45) 
THE LATE DR. NATHAN ALLEN 

Nathan Allen, a doctor of medicine, and for many 
years a prominent figure in the affairs of Amherst col- 
lege and the charities of Massachusetts, died at Lowell 
yesterday, after lying in a half -conscious condition for 
several weeks. He was born at Princeton, April 13, 
1813, of a farmer's family long settled in New England, 
and distantly connected with the Aliens of Medfield and 
of Pittsfield. In all its branches this numerous family 
abounded with men of vigorous quality, fit to render yeo- 
man service to the public as minister, doctor, lawyer, 
school-master and military commander. Nathan Allen 
fitted for college at Princeton and graduated at Amherst 
in 1836, having the late Gov. Bullock and Rev. R. D. 
Hitchcock among his classmates; but he was not dis- 
tinguished, like them, for brilliant qualities of eloquence 
and leadership, --rather for a plodding, patient industry 
and a lively interest in new ideas which expressed itself 
better in sympathy and in acts, than in words spoken or 
written. Wherever there was a way opening for human 
improvement, especially on the physical side, Dr. Allen 
was quick to see it, and to put himself near it. Thus, in 
his early medical studies at Philadelphia in 1840-41, he 
found much to interest him in phrenology, which then 
promised so much in the hopes of its ardent cultivators, 
especially Dr. George Combe of Edinburgh. These 
promises were never fulfilled, and the localization of 
brain -functions indicated by phrenology have been mostly 
set aside by the more scientific researches and discov- 
eries of Ferrier, Hughlings Jackson and other French 
and German pathologists. But Dr. Allen's studies in this 
direction turned his mind toward the phenomena of in- 
sanity, and made him one of the earliest advocates, in 
this country, of a more rational treatment of the insane 
that prevailed here before the civil war. His views were 
theoretical rather than practical, but they led him to ac- 
tivity in securing for the insane a better state supervision 
and a more complete classification. As a member of the 
old board of state charities, to which he was appointed in 
1863 by Gov. Andrew, he shared in the memorable work 
of that board, and became a sort of lunacy commissioner 
while performing its duties. Gov. Talbot in 1874 made 
him one of the lunacy commissioners — Wendell Phillips 
being the other— for a single year; but the time had not 
then come for the full direction of lunacy matters by a 
special commission in Massachusetts. In 1879, when 
the board of health, lunacy and charity was created, Gov. 
Talbot made him one of its members, and in this capacity 
he served until July, 1880; when he retired he was the 
oldest member in service, having held his commission 
on the state boards for nearly 17 years. 

Preliminary to this, Dr. Allen had qualified himself 
for sanitary and statistical work by long practice as a 
physician in Lowell, where the greater part of his life 
was spent. His labors there were among the poor rather 



73 
than the rich, and they kept constantly before his mind the 
problems of population, hygiene and public charity, which 
he studied long and diligently, and in regard to which he 
was in advance of his contemporaries . His ideas were not 
original, nor were they very persuasively advocated; but 
he made them his own, and in one or two particulars he 
lived to see the opposing and scoffing world come round 
rather ungraciously to his opinion. He early pointed out 
the defects in our system of registration, as showing the 
percentage of births, deaths and marriages imperfectly; 
and his persistence in exposing these defects led to a bet- 
ter system in course of time. In legislation and in local 
health administration he steadily favored the best policy, 
and was instrumental in exposing some of the abuses con- 
cerning the insane at Tewksbury, long before Gen. Butler 
found it politically expedient to attack that state almshouse 
management. By the help of Dr . Allen, among others, the 
abuses were removed, so that, when Butler blew his loud 
ramshorns about the walls of the Tewksbury Jericho, they 
did not fall down (much to his surprise) but survived his 
own downfall. Yet so ready was Dr. Allen to join in any 
movement which promised aid for the unfortunate, that he 
gave some countenance, at first, to Butler's assault on 
the state charities, knowing that they had weak points and 
were susceptible of improvement. 

Dr. Allen was a member of many professional, scien- 
tific and philanthropic societies; was one of the founders 
of the American social science association and the national 
conference of charities, and frequently wrote papers and 
reports for those bodies . He was also skilled in genealogy 
and in local history, and at the time of his death was en- 
gaged upon a history of his native Princeton for the Worces- 
ter county history. Many of his printed essays were col- 
lected last summer into a volume which was published by 
Lee & Shepard, with his portrait and a sketch of his life. 
He had a reputation as a writer on sanitary topics and 
population, in England as well as at home; and was un- 
wearied in his contributions to popular knowledge on his 
chosen subjects. The intrinsic value of each paper was 
not great, and he fell into some fallacies; but the line upon 
line, precept upon precept iteration of his facts and views 
made in time a considerable impression on the public mind. 

It was a subject of congratulation with him that he had 
done something to promote college hygiene and practical 
gymnastics at Amherst, and he never ceased to love and 
serve his college. He had come to be one of the veterans 
among its alumni, and his memory will be honored there. 
In his own city he was also a veteran, but the pushing 
crowd of younger men jostled him of late years from his 
well-earned place in his profession and in the city govern- 
ment. Such, however, is the fate of age, and too often, 
the only reward of faithful service—except the approval of 
heaven and of a good conscience. That Dr. Allen had, but 
it did not prevent him from feeling keenly the slights and 
loneliness of declining years. Yet he was ready to bear a 
part again, when called upon, and to unite with old friends 
or with new in pushing forward the car of progress. He 
was not one of those thrifty Christians whose hymn is, 

Wait for the wagon, 

And we'll all take a ride, -- 

but he stood ready to go on foot, and to draw the load if it 
dragged, or was held back by selfish hands. 



Dr. Allen was happily married and leaves a family of 
daughters , but no sons . He had lately given up his house 
and office in the central part of Lowell and taken a more 
retired house for his less active days. In this he met, 
December 17, with an accident which was the cause of 
his death, after a period of unconsciousness and some 
suffering. He had gone into the cellar, at half -past 2 
Sunday night, to attend to the furnace; the noise of a fall 
was heard, and his wife and daughters hurrying down, 
found Dr. Allen lying with his head in a pool of blood and 
groaning terribly. He had suffered concussion of the 
brain, and the blood came from his ear. He had been in 
uncommonly good health during the autumn. Dr. Allen 
was a good man, and his virtues will be held in remem- 
brance, while his foibles are already forgotten. 



(46) 

WHITTTER, WHITMAN AND EMMA LAZARUS 

AS AMERICAN POETS 

The definitive edition of Whittier's works, both verse 
and prose, in seven volumes, four of which are in verse, 
has been appealing to me for some weeks to write its eu- 
logy and critique; and now has come as a holiday gift from 
the good gray poet himself the more pathetic definitive 
edition, in one volume, of Walt Whitman's verse and 
prose, --his "Complete Poems and Prose," 1855-1888, 
"Authenticated and Personal Book (handled by W. W.), "-- 
in which the stout-hearted, but feeble -bodied, old man 
says his long farewell to his readers. Old man! Yes; 
but he is not yet 70, a year younger than Ellery Chan- 
ning and two years younger than Thoreau would be if 
alive, while Whittier has passed 80, and Alcott has but 
lately died at 88. Whitman has aged to the fancy through 
disease, --that quiet paralysis which came upon him after 
the war, but which has left his mind serene and untouched; 
he has long passed for old, and that phrase of O'Connor's, 
"the good gray poet," has fastened itself on the popular 
mind. Whittier, although 10 years older, has written so 
constantly, and with such animation and variety, that he 
hardly passes for old until one sees him, with his deaf- 
ness and almost grim look of the old New Englander. 
Whitman is of a milder and mellower type physically, 
from the mingling of Dutch with Yankee blood in him on 
the shores of Long Island, where he and Elias Hicks were 
born more than 70 years apart--Hicks, March 19, 1748; 
Whitman, May 31, 1819. The portrait of Hicks, given 
near the end of Whitman's great volume, belongs again 
to the Whittier type of martial Quakers, men who in the 
garb of peace and quiet find the inner light to generate 
heat as well as radiance, and a heat which age scarcely 
cooled either in the Long Island orator or the Merrimac 
river poet. Cowley complained of his birth star that it 
was not calorific: 

The star that did my being frame 
Was but a lambent flame, 
And some small light it did dispense, 
But neither heat nor influence. 

In another sense Whittier's natal star gave him heat 
enough; and his youthful poems here printed are full 
of fire, but not what Dryden calls "lasting fire." 



74 



It was easy writing for the young Whittier, to whom 
verse came naturally; but those early poems are now hard 
reading, and so he finds them himself, he says. His Indian 
tale, "Mogg Megone," written from 1830 to 1834, is judged 
by the author now as suggesting "a big Indian in his war 
paint strutting about in Sir Walter Scott's plaid," and this 
is not too severe. Scott dominated him then, and Burns and 
other modern poets then and later; so that it was not until 
he had been writing 40 years that his real genius shone 
through these borrowed plumes . Whitman contended reso- 
lutely against the same imitative demon, and went to an 
extreme in casting them out; as he says in his "Specimen 
Days" in the middle of this volume, speaking of the first 
printing of his "Leaves of Grass," in 1855, "I had great 
trouble in leaving out the stock 'poetical' touches, but suc- 
ceeded at last." Certainly this distich, once so famous, -- 



I loafe and invite my soul, 
I lean and loafe at my ease, 
of summer grass, -- 



observing a spear 



does not savor much of Scott or Byron, or Burns or Shake- 
speare, though it has a distinct suggestion of Emerson- -an 
Emerson in shirt- sleeves, as it were. What Whitman did 
by his extravagances and plainness of speech about sex, 
Whittier had done 20 years before by taking the unpopular 
abolitionist side; he startled the world into paying him 
some attention. Once a poet has done that, his career is 
fairly begun, and it rests with himself to say whether he 
shall be forgotten or not. Whittier went forward, and drew 
his enemies over to his side by widening the range of his 
sympathies and liberalizing his verse; so that of late years 
there has hardly been a more popular poet except Long- 
fellow and now, at last, Tennyson. Much of Whitman's 
verse, however, and much that these four books contain, 
will hardly survive, except as the husk survives with the 
corn; it is only here and there that the immortal, prover- 
bial lines appear, and it is too soon yet to say what these 
are, all of them. 

Every gate she bars to hate 
She opens wide to love 

seems to be of this sort; and so, I should say, are these: 

Gray-bearded Use, who, deaf and blind, 
Groped for his old accustomed stone, 

Leaned on his staff and wept to find, 
His seat o'erthrown; 

From those great eyes 
The soul is fled: 
When faith is lost, when honor dies, 
The man is dead; 

O fairest born of love and light 
Yet bending brow and eye severe 
On all that harms the holy sight 
Or wounds the pure and perfect ear . 

There are also single lines that resound with great beauty 
on the ear, such as-- 



"And sandy Barnstable rose up wet with the salt- 
sea spray," 

"No hewer of our mountain oaks suspends his ax 
in fear," 

'Dark but comely, like the maiden in the ancient 
Jewish song." 

On the whole, however, Whittier loses, like most 
poets, by having all his verses brought into one collec- 
tion; the wheat and the tares grow together, and the wheat 
suffers by it. It is so, too, in Whitman's huge volume; 
but here the variety is so great, and the grouping so pe- 
culiar, that the original and striking or the merely quaint 
things often gain by their monotonous environment, like 
the sudden upward curl and flash of a sea wave. Through- 
out Whitman's work, too, you get a glimpse of a man 
greater than what he utters, and this gives perpetuity in 
literature, as we see in the case of Sidney, of Ennius, 
and of many unforgotten men, ancient and modern. The 
haughty favors of nature are bestowed with little regard 
for the zeal with which they are sought, --so feminine is 
our good mother, and so little of a democrat, with all 
her multitudinous children. She distinguishes Whitman, 
not because he is like all the rest of us, but because he 
is unlike: 

Alas ! that one is born to blight 
Victim of perpetual slight, -- 

And another is born 
To make the sun forgotten. 

These are the partialities of nature or fortune; some- 
times kindly, often cruel in seeming, and scornful as 
the old English poet makes his goddess: 

This world is Fortune's ball, wherewith she sports; 

Sometimes I strike it up into the air, 

And then create I emperors and kings; 

Sometimes I spurn it; at which spurn crawls out 

The wild beast multitude. 

'Tis I that tread on necks of conquerors; 

Being swollen with their own greatness, I have 

pricked 
The bladder of their pride, and made them die 
As water- bubbles, without memory. 

Whitman has no such view of human life as this; he 
is always, like Thoreau's lock-tender of the Middlesex 
canal, "meditating some vast and sunny problem," and 
even in old age, sickness and the prospect of death he 
finds cheerful themes. . . . This might not pass for poet- 
ry, so much as for a creed; but who can fail to see the 
poetic spirit of these lines? 

Whispers of heavenly death murmured I hear, 

Labial gossip of night , sibilant chorals , 

Footsteps gently ascending, mystical breezes 
wafted soft and low, 

Ripples of unseen rivers, tides of a current flow- 
ing, forever flowing. 

It is the totality, what Whitman calls the "ensemble," 



75 



which must be regarded in his writings; and in the mass 
and sweep of this, his many oddities and vicious passages 
become lost to sight as do the separate billows in the pros- 
pect of the ocean, while here and there, as I said, flashes 
up a wave that catches the eye and holds the memory for- 
ever; monotony and oft-appearing egotism may be charged 
against such a genius as this, for every separate wave 
seems pushing itself up into notice and saying, "Look at 
me!" But then the great mass, the ensemble , pulls every 
little billow down again with calm impartiality. Broad and 
unique, these are the words that describe Whitman; but in 
this breadth there is variety, and to be unique does not ex- 
clude combinations and resolutions of beautiful elements. 
Horace says that Lucilius painted himself in his poems as 
in a votive tablet; but Whitman has scrawled his eventful, 
observant life over the whole inside of the temple, and 
this life, as Shelley says: 

Like a dome of many-colored glass 
Stains the white radiance of eternity. 

Nevertheless, the white radiance and the inner light are 
there, and perhaps as marked now in Whitman as in Whit- 
tier. 

Along with these two collections from the aged poets 
come the two volumes in which Emma Lazarus speaks to 
her readers collectively and no longer in ejaculations from 
the magazines. Her portrait also (as in the volumes of 
Whittier and Whitman their many portraits), looks out up- 
on us, or slightly away from us, among the pages. She 
was a true poet, and had much to say, but perhaps it is 
the "ever-feminine" that attracts us in her verses, rather 
than the poet, and certainly more than der ewige Jude , who 
comes in so frequently, though very naturally, as her life 
goes forward. The slight sketch of her life which came 
out in the Century some months since, is here reproduced 
and gives an interesting view of her career . She began to 
write verses when she was 11, and some of those she wrote 
at 14 have been published. She wrote with heat and force, 
it seems, and then was not much interested in what her 
friends or the public thought of her works . "She often re- 
sented any allusion to them on the part of her friends; and 
the public verdict as to their excellence could not reassure 
or satisfy her. The explanation is not far, perhaps, to 
seek. Was it not the 'Ewig Weibliche' that allows no pres- 
tige but its own? Emma Lazarus was a true woman too 
distinctly feminine to wish to be exceptional." Such is the 
verdict of her biographer; which, if it were true would cut 
off women from ever being great poets, or even good ones, 
since the good poet must always be exceptional. Miss 
Lazarus was so among Americans, and few of her own 
sex who wrote verses in English during her life-time sur- 
passed her in the art and gift of poetry, yet her volumes 
are rather painful than pleasure giving and there rests 
upon her memory a pathetic mist, like that which sur- 
rounds and magnifies the fame of Margaret Fuller . Her 
two volumes are finely printed by Houghton, as are those 
of Whittier. The immense octavo of Whitman's works is 
for sale chiefly by himself at Camden, N.J.; for since the 
Massachusetts attorney- general pronounced his moral ver- 
dict against the books, Whitman has been his own publish- 
er. 



(47) 
LOUISA MAY ALCOTT AS A NOVELIST 

Miss Alcott would gladly have succeeded as a novelist, 
and not, chiefly, as a writer for children; but nature had 
denied her the power to look forth upon the world of men 
and women, and note down clearly what all their doing and 
striving meant. She could do this for children and youth, 
before the real battle of life begins, and when everything 
is a rehearsal or anticipation of the great world; and she 
could draw from books many of the elements of romance 
for use in her stories; but the world itself was too much 
for her. This forced her to follow Sidney's direction from 
the muse: 

Biting my truant pen, beating myself for spite, 
"Fool!" said my muse to me, "look in thy heart 
and write." 

The success she had was from this direction, --the life of 
family and friend was all that she could strongly portray, 
and even the great character of her father stretched like 
the shadow of a mountain, far beyond her domestic land- 
scape, and was out of her reach. Intellectual discipline 
did little for her, — to quote Sidney again: 

Invention, Nature's child, fled step -dame Study's 
blows , 

or as Mr. Alcott expressed it in his sonnet to her, 

Thou. . .To conquer torture, cherish kindred dear. 
Hast with grave studies vext a sprightly brain . 

Hence we find in all her novels, perhaps least in this 
"Modern Mephistopheles , " a lack of congruity and co- 
herence, whether in character or plot, which places 
them outside the circle of permanent fiction, and makes 
the[m] rank below the work of inferior writers who have 
the power to see things as they are in the ideal as well 
as the real world . Her Gladys and Canaris and Jasper 
Helwyze in this story are striking but impossible cre- 
ations, and have not those hooks and eyes of natural feel- 
ing or circumstance which fasten together the persons 
and scenes of a novel. Richardson never called these 
hooks and eyes — his own calm little eye perceived how 
Jeronimo and Clementina, and Mrs. Awbury, and Fen- 
wick and Greville and all the rest "hitched up" with the 
magnificent Sir Charles, and the adorable Harriet Byron; 
but Miss Alcott in her novels (not in her stories) jerks 
from one character and situation to another as a horse- 
car bumps from one track to another, and thus jolts and 
discomposes the reader, in spite of the brilliant passages 
she has to offer. The "Whisper in the Dark," now added 
to this romance of the "No Name series," was written 30 
years ago, and, being short, seems less improbable. 




76 



(48) 
THE MIRACLE OF LAURA BRIDGMAN 



Laura Bridgman, deaf, dumb and blind from babyhood, 
and yet a happy, an intelligent and a useful woman for half 
a century, died yesterday at the Perkins institution for the 
blind in South Boston in her 60th year . She is a widely 
known miracle of patient teaching, and her history has af- 
forded psychologists and theologians a theme or starting 
point for speculation as to the nature and connection of the 
mind and soul, which has been well taken advantage of. 
Laura Dewey Bridgman was born in Hanover, N.H., De- 
cember 21, 1829, and when two years old scarlet fever 
deprived her of sight, hearing and speech, destroyed the 
sense of smell and dulled that of taste. When she was 
eight years old her parents brought her to the Perkins in- 
stitution, then just beginning its useful existence, develop- 
ing from Dr. S. G. Howe's experiments at his own house 
in 1832-3. Dr. Howe devoted himself to the apparently 
hopeless task of opening for this imprisoned soul a way 
into the life around her. He taught her first the names of 
common objects by means of raised letters, and when he 
had established an association between the names and the 
objects he gave her the words alone, and she would select 
the objects they belonged with. Then the words were sepa- 
rated into their letters, and she was taught how to form 
from them the words she knew; thence she speedily learned 
new combinations and new associations. She learned also 
the finger alphabet and its correspondence with the letters, 
and when Dr. Howe had spelt a word by his hands, she feel- 
ing them would reproduce it in her types. Three months 
sufficed to bring her so far- -an almost incredible prog- 
ress. The process of Laura Bridgman's education has been 
minutely described in early days by Dr. Howe, and later by 
Mary S. Lamson, her subsequent instructor. She gained 
a knowledge of arithmetic and geography, and became a 
very neat seamstress, making her own clothes, and later 
being able to operate a sewing-machine. She did house 
work also, and went with great ease about the places she 
became familiar with. 

The most remarkable thing about her case was her ex- 
traordinary mental development in the realm of abstract 
ideas. She herself began this with questioning Dr. Howe 
on the beginnings of things. Land and sea were, she ex- 
isted, others existed--how did they come to exist? Dr. 
Howe set forth to her the idea of God, the origin of all, 
his character of goodness and wisdom, and she seized 
upon all he said with avidity and a singular intelligence. 
Her religious life was from that day serious and sure. 
She never felt the necessity of a creed, and she never 
knew what a multiplicity of creeds there are in the world. 
Her moral character grew symmetrically, and it was no- 
ticed that while she was ready to accord every other per- 
son his or her rights, she was exacting as to her own. 
Her achievement of language did not include a perfect 
knowledge of grammatical forms, and what she wrote 
often required a little imagination to piece out; but she 
wrote touching letters, and sometimes what she called 
poems, which are extremely interesting to students of 
the nature of the mind. Her use of adjectives was very 
striking from its picturesqueness. She chose phrases 
that gave the idea of feeling, most frequently, and yet 
she often struck out a bold image in a style that has been 
called Homeric. 



Nothing more interesting has been done in the way of 
training the human reason and bringing out a soul from 
utter darkness than the education of Laura Bridgman. 
When Charles Dickens came to this country in 1842 he 
visited her at Dr. Howe's school, and his mention of her 
in "American Notes" has been given a disproportionate 
share in making her case known. It has become, indeed, 
one of the celebrated cases of the world, and a great spur 
to humane endeavor in behalf of the blind, the deaf and the 
dumb in civilized nations. Laura Bridgman has been a 
successful teacher in the South Boston institution, and has 
made her home there always during the school sessions, 
while spending her summers at Hanover with her family. 
Her mother is still living. 



(49) 
RECOGNITION FOR MRS. 



JULIA WARD HOWE 



We laugh at Boston more or less, all of us--even those 
that live here the year round- -and there are places where 
they scold about Boston and hate her; but when one consid- 
ers fairly, and with a good memory, what Boston was and 
is, he must needs praise her. Erase her record from the 
history of the nation and the world, and what a hiatus there 
would be! Like Jerusalem, Athens, Rome, Alexandria, 
Florence, Paris, London, Edinboro, Weimar, --Boston has 
held forth a light to the world which could be seen across 
degrees of longitude and centuries of time. A city set on 
a hill cannot be hid; its light may wax and wane, but it 
never goes out wholly, history rekindled it when fate has 
blown out its flame, as happened to several of those I have 
named. They may have shined for religion or art or learn- 
ing or poetry or eloquence, --for freedom and humanity or 
for literature and culture; but there they are, like the 
stars, --differing in magnitude but all centers of light, 
whether blazing, or dim, and winking, or even quite ob- 
scured by fog and cloud . Boston has been conspicuous for 
liberty and philanthropy, --for the light of hope and prog- 
ress- -and her little hill-top has been well named, Beacon- 
hill. The blaze from Boston always signaled "Forward!" 
though there were plenty of people here who neither meant 
nor wished any progress at all--or a retrograde one, if 
any. It is the lonely few who keep the light-house lanterns 
burning; though they may have help now and then from all 
their neighbors. So the chosen seed, the saving remnant, 
have managed to keep the ideal Boston right side up with 
its lamp trimmed and burning. 

I could but think of this as I stood among the throng 
who on Monday and Tuesday pressed to do honor to the 
Boston woman now better known than any of the myriads 
who may call themselves women of Boston--Mrs. Howe. 
It is true she was born in New York but that was an acci- 
dent, --her life and heart have been Bostonian in the best 
sense, though she has wandered wide and practised to- 
ward Boston that paradoxical love-magic which Emerson 
recommends to the betrothed souls, 

When each the other shall avoid, 
Shall each by each be most enjoyed. 

Emerson himself be it observed, though born in Boston, 
got out of it as soon as he could, and was constantly say- 
ing to the provincial little town, 



77 



Good-bye proud world, I'm going home, -- 



that is, into the country, somewhere, but not too far off. 
Mrs . Howe was drawn this way some 50 years ago, when 
she was Julia Ward, and when Charles Sumner and Cor- 
nelius Felton were young Bostonians . They took her in 
1841 to see Laura Bridgman, then a child, and her miracle- 
working teacher, at South Boston; she captivated Dr. Howe, 
and he persuaded her to make Boston her home. They were 
married in 1843, when he was 41 and she not quite 24; they 
went to Europe almost immediately, and their first daugh- 
ter, Julia, was born at Rome in 1844, and baptized there 
by Theodore Parker, who was also making his first pil- 
grimage to Europe . On their return from Greece to Eng- 
land they made the acquaintance of Florence Nightingale- - 
then unknown to fame- -for whom Mrs. Howe named her 
second daughter, now Mrs. Hall, and eldest of the four 
surviving children, who with their children graced Mrs. 
Howe's fe"te on Monday. The company present were nu- 
merous, and nearly all Bostonian, though the nations of 
Europe were also represented. The old Boston names and 
the new were there-- Adams, Apthorpe, Andrew, Austin, 
Beebe, Bird, Blake, Brooks, Cary, Channing, Claflin, 
Cheney, Coolidge, Curtis, Cushing, Kenny, Dorr, Dwight, 
Eliot, Gardiner, Guild, Gray, Francis, Fields, Hale, 
Higginson, Hooper, Jackson, Lee, Lodge, Lowell, Law- 
rence, Lincoln, Marcou, May, Pratt, Peabody, Perkins, 
Phillips, Putnam, Quincy, Rice, Richards, Robeson, Rog- 
ers, Russell, Shaw, Spaulding, Silsbee, Talbot, Thayer, 
Warren, Ward, Watson, Wales, Whitney, Williams, Win- 
throp, and many more--all registered in a birthday book. 
They represented art, literature, industry and leisure, -- 
not as was said of English Oxford, of "lost causes and for- 
gotten beliefs," but of every generous purpose and every 
noble institution which Boston has cherished or endowed 
in the long annals of her philanthropy. Where, I thought, 
could so many excellent persons be brought together in 
such friendly relations as in Boston? Where in the whole 
world beside is wealth so modest and so charitable, learn- 
ing so practical, fashion so sensible, youth so wise and 
age so youthful as in this blessed fourth-class city on the 
Back Bay and the Charles river? 

These two days' commemoration of Mrs. Howe's gifts 
and graces were a crowning of her in the capital --the first 
universal homage of Boston that she has ever received, I 
think. When first here, something of her husband's un- 
popularity as a reformer attended Mrs. Howe; then she 
began to write in the newspapers and elsewhere, and her 
arrows fell here and there, drawing blood sometimes; 
then the envies of more serious authorship befell her, and 
her own prominence as an advocate of woman's cause, and 
of freedom in thought and religion, made her unwelcome 
to many. But time, that takes so much away from all, and 
not the least from charming woman, brings also its com- 
pensations; she may outlive, or she may convert her ri- 
vals or foes into friends, and it will become the fashion 
to admire what once it was unfashionable to allow. Vir- 
tues like certain wines, are more pleasing to the worldly 
palate with age; indeed, aged virtue is always respectable 
if it has not soured in the flask. Nothing is sweeter or 
mellower than Mrs. Howe's septuagint wisdom, which, 
no longer is shot into Boston with arrows, but falls like 
honey-dew upon the town. Fame elsewhere is a recom- 



mendation, too, even in Boston, nor do the praises of 
Chicago or Tacoma descend unmarked when the Bos- 
tonian hears of them . Mrs . Howe is personally well 
known in so many American and European cities that 
she reflects credit on the city of her residence, and 
Boston is more esteemed on her account. All this 
brings her nearer to her fellow-citizens, and to the 
formerly critical of her own sex, so that the festival 
of this week was a hearty and almost universal tribute 
to her genius, to her character, and the graces of her 
manner--so unlike the traditional coldness of the Bos- 
tonian . 

The true spirit of Boston now abides in its women, — 
perhaps it always has, but the fact is now more evident, 
because the number of representative men in Boston is 
smaller than formerly. This fact gives importance to 
all the organizations of women here; and of these the 
New England women's club, founded 21 years ago by 
Mrs. Cheney, Mrs. Howe, Mrs. Peabody, and many 
other women of Boston and the vicinity, is perhaps the 
most important, because a center and nursery for other 
movements. It was this club which gave Mrs. Howe her 
more public recognition on Tuesday, and of which she 
has long been the president. In her frequent absences, 
Mrs. Cheney presides, so that these are the "Two queens 
of Brentford sitting on one throne," who regulate the pub- 
lic proceedings of the club. Its general work is in the 
hands of committees, well organized, and brings into ac- 
tivity scores of members . One feature of the club is its 
general exclusion of reporters, so that it is only now and 
then the world knows anything, through the newspapers, 
of its work. . . . 



(50) 
CARLYLE AND EMERSON ONCE MORE 

This is the birthday of Emerson- -the only Emerson 
thus far in the world's history who has a world -reputation, 
though many of that name have been mentioned from time 
to time. It is, therefore, a good day to recall him and 
his Scotch friend, who from Edinboro and 'the Craig o' 
Puttock"--as Carlyle called his house in Nithsdale--was 
sowing the same seed and preaching the same gospel 
that Emerson was preaching and sowing from Boston and 
Concord. This was true when they met in 1833, and for 
some years afterward; although Carlyle in later days 
turned aside and scolded out a strange lot of sermons 
of his own, --being disobedient unto the heavenly version 
of his Teufelsdrbckh days . His genius did not forsake 
him on that account, but gave him a wider audience than 
he had ever got before he begun to scold so vehemently- - 
about 1845, we may say. Yet the later Carlyle was not 
the man whom Emerson traveled 20 miles out of his road 
to see in 1833; and Emerson was in later years much 
more than the man whom Carlyle and his wife welcomed 
in their lonely "whin- stone castle of many chagrins," be- 
fore they went up to London to encounter fame and the 
great world. At eight and thirty Carlyle was far more 
mature and learned, though not more profound than Em- 
erson at 30--those being their respective ages when they 
met at Craigenputtock. In the world of thought and liter- 
ature, and eventually in the world of action, these men 



78 



were the two most potent forces of their time, and will 
more and more appear so as that time grows more dis- 
tant. Their biographers have not yet considered them in 
this character- -as representative men and world-forces, 
but rather as individuals with certain talents and limita- 
tions and petty circumstances, upon which the changes 
have been rung (especially in Carlyle's case) until the 
topic became wearisome . Real biography of the two men 
has yet to be composed, --all that has yet appeared being 
memoires pour servir , or biographical material, --very 
interesting, but distracting and leaving the portraiture of 
them still imperfect and subject to such attempts as Mat- 
thew Arnold's and Froude's. A little book on Emerson by 
Richard Garnett of the British Museum perhaps comes as 
near as anything yet published to his portraiture; while for 
Carlyle there is nothing so good as Emerson's account of 
him in two or three chapters of his book. 

The Froude Myth of Carlyle was a powerful and painful 
performance, --supported, unhappily, by too much that the 
morose and penitent old man had written, --but not in ac- 
cord with all the facts of the case. This myth is now fad- 
ing away, and the image of Carlyle is coming forth from 
"glar and reck ," as himself would say, in a more pleasing 
distinctness than at one time seemed probable. The au- 
thentic letters edited by Prof. Norton- -whether to Emer- 
son, or to his own kindred and to Mrs. Carlyle--are good 
evidence against Froude in some of his misconstructions, 
while the kindlier letters refute much that the more churl- 
ish ones said or implied. Carlyle's temper was a sad and 
savage one, too often- -especially so in his latest years-- 
and while he could not fail to write striking things, his 
words were often most unjust. Whether Mr. Norton has 
deliberately set himself to show the more humane, genial 
and loving side of this strange nature, I can hardly say, -- 
but in effect this is what his volumes do, and none more 
than this last one, containing the letters to Carlyle's own 
family, from the date of his marriage (1826), for 10 years. 
The first letters, immediately after his marriage, are in- 
deed strange ones, considering that he had been for years 
seeking to win Jane Welch for his own. They are such as 
a man might write after his house had burned down, or his 
fortune or health had been lost. Two days after the wed- 
ding, he writes to his mother: "On the whole, I have rea- 
son to say that I have been mercifully dealt with; and, if 
an outward man, worn with continual harassments, and 
spirits wasted with so many agitations, would let me see 
it, that when once recovered into my usual tone of health, 
I may fairly calculate on being far happier than I have ever 
been. My wife is gay and happy as a lark, and looks with 
such soft cheerfulness into my gloomy countenance, that 
new hope passes over into me every time I meet her eye. 
. . .All my despondency cannot make her despond." "Sure- 
ly, surely there is nothing so untoward or unmanageable 
in my circumstances as to excite despair of regulating 
them into happiness and order!" This is odd language for 
a newly-married man; and the use of it explains much of 
the unhappiness that afterward appeared in this domestic 
relation. In truth, Carlyle's gift of expression was al- 
ways carrying him too far, --he made himself and others 
unhappy by talking and preaching so much, --always prais- 
ing silence, but seldom or never able to hold his tongue. 

Yet nothing can be clearer than his insight, nothing 
more affectionate than his heart, --only he did not forget 



himself quite enough. His care for his mother, brothers, 
sisters, cousins, and occasionally for his wife, is very 
touching and impressive; he gives and lends money freely, 
writes constantly, offers the best of advice (a little too 
freely), and has his friends constantly in mind. There 
are a hundred examples of this in the volume, --and a 
thousand valuable details about his life, his work and his 
contemporaries . Here is the earliest mention of "Sartor 
Resartus" (in October, 1830): "What I am writing at is 
the strangest of all things; begun as an article for Frazer; 
then found to be too long, now sometimes looking as if it 
would swell into a book. A very singular piece, I assure 
you! It glances from Heaven to Earth and back again in a 
strange satirical frenzy, --whether fine or not, remains 
to be seen." When it was written, and the publishers 
were refusing it, he writes: "When I measure minds 
with these people (in London) I feel as if I could sweep 
them into infinite space, with their errors, and their 
basenesses, and make room for myself to do something 
better." "Whenever published, Teufelsdrbckh will as- 
tonish most that read it, be wholly understood by very 
few; but to the astonishment of some will add touches of 
almost the deepest spiritual interest." This describes 
the book very well; now for a description of the man as 
Emerson saw and reconsidered him in 1848: 

Carlyle is an immense talker, as extraordinary in his 
conversation as in his writings, --I think even more so. 
He is not mainly a scholar, but a practical Scotchman, 
such as you would find in any saddler's or iron dealer's 
shop, and then only accidentally and by a surprising ad- 
dition the admirable scholar and writer he is . Suppose 
Hugh Whelan [a Scotch gardener in Concord] had found 
leisure enough, in addition to all his daily work, to read 
Plato and Shakespeare, Augustine and Calvin, and (re- 
maining Hugh Whelan all the time) should talk scornfully 
of all this nonsense of books that he had been bothered 
with, and you shall have just the tone and talk and laugh- 
ter of Carlyle. He talks like a very unhappy man, pro- 
foundly solitary, displeased and hindered by all men and 
things about him; and, biding his time, meditating how to 
undermine and explode the whole world of nonsense which 
torments him. He is obviously greatly respected by all 
sorts of people, understands his own value as well as 
Webster (of whom his behavior sometimes reminds me); 
and can see society on his own terms. Great is his rev- 
erence for realities, --for all such traits as spring from 
the intrinsic nature of the actor. He humors this into 
the idolatry of strength . There is nothing deeper in his 
nature than his humor, --than the considerate, conde- 
scending good nature with which he looks at every object 
in existence, as a man might look at a mouse. He finds 
nothing so depressing as the sight of a great mob. He 
saw once, as he told me, three or four miles of human 
beings, --and fancied "that the airth was some great 
cheese, and these were mites." Carlyle has, best of 
all men in England, kept the manly attitude in his time. 
He has stood for scholars, asking no scholar what he 
should say. Holding an honored place in the best so- 
ciety, he has stood for the people, for the Chartist, for 
the pauper, --intrepidly and scornfully teaching the no- 
bles their peremptory duties. He has carried himself 
erect and made himself a power confessed by all men. 



79 



Much of this description would apply also to Emerson, 
who had less force but more insight than Carlyle, — less 
"nature," as theologians used to say, but more "grace." 
In Dr. Emerson's new life of his father (which, like Mr. 
Cabot's longer one, is chiefly valuable for the citations 
from Emerson in its pages), there is a passage concern- 
ing Thoreau which may be compared with this version of 
Carlyle. "Henry has muscle, and ventures on and per- 
forms feats which I am forced to decline. In reading him, 
I find the same thoughts, the same spirit that is in me; but 
he takes a step beyond, and illustrates by excellent images 
that which I should have conveyed in a sleepy generaliza - 
tion ." Emerson's generalizations are never "sleepy," but 
they are sometimes carried so far that the common eye 
loses sight of them; while Carlyle and Thoreau make their 
meaning visible to all who will think. In prose, it may well 
be that Thoreau will outlive both Carlyle and Emerson, by 
reason of a certain blending of force and elegance in his 
style; but the "accomplishment of verse" will make Em- 
erson immortal in literature. Here too, he once said a 
memorable thing, suggested no doubt, by his appreciation 
of Ellery Channing's rare gift in verse-making. This date 
also is 1848: 

Another walk with Ellery Charming, well worth com- 
memoration if that were possible. . . . From White Pond 
we struck across an orchard to a steep hill of the right 
New Hampshire slope, and came presently into rudest 
woodland landscapes, unknown, undescribed and hitherto 
unwalked by us Saturday afternoon professors. We kept 
our way and fell into the Duganne trail, as we had already 
seen the glimpse of his cabin in the edge of the barbarous 
district we had traversed. Through a clump of apple- 
trees, near a long ridge, with fair outsight of the river and 
across the Nutmeadow brook, we came out upon the bank 
of the river just below James Brown's. We talked of the 
great advantage which he has who can turn a verse, over 
all the human race. I read in Wood's "Athenae Oxonienses," 
a score of pages of learned nobodies, of whose once odor- 
iferous reputations not a trace remains in the air; and then 
I came to the name of some Carew, Herrick, Suckling, 
Chapman, as fresh and modern as those of our friends 
in Boston and London- -and all because they could turn a 
verse. Only write a dozen lines and rest on your oars for- 
ever; you are dear and necessary to the human race, and 
worth all the old trumpery Plutarchs and Platos and Bacons 
in the world. In walking with Ellery you shall always see 
what was never before shown to the eye of man. 

Dr. Emerson stands too near the mountain to command 
the best view; but his aim is modest and he contributes 
many details of Emerson's life which might otherwise es- 
cape notice. A little more boldness in comment and de- 
lineation might be excused on the score of heredity, --for 
the father drew his sketches from near and far, and al- 
ways with a free hand, having within himself 'the bounds 
of propriety" which the son trusts "he shall not overstep." 
More might have been said of the piquant and sibylline 
aunt, Mary Emerson, whom Emerson himself so well por- 
trayed in one of his later papers. She was in her time — 
say from 1800 to 1835 --as he described her, 'the best 
writer in Massachusetts ." Thus to her nephew Charles 
Emerson she wrote (I suppose about 1830): 



War ! what do I think of it? Why (in your ear) I think it 
is so much better than oppression, that if it were ravag- 
ing the whole geography of despotism it would be an omen 
of high and glorious imports. Channing paints its miser- 
ies, — but does he know those of a worse war? private ani- 
mosities, pinching, bitter warfare of the human heart, the 
cruel oppression of the poor by the rich, which corrupts 
old worlds. How much better and more honest are storm- 
ing and conflagration of towns! They are but letting blood, 
which corrupts into worms and dragons. War devastates 
the consciences of men, yet corrupt peace does not less. 
And if you tell me of the miseries of the battlefield, with 
the sensitive Channing (of whose love of life I am ashamed) 
what are a few days of agony, what of a vulture being the 
bier, tomb and parson of a hero, compared to the long 
years of sticking on a bed and wished away . 

There is rhetoric for you, with 'the bounds of propriety" 
all vaulted across at one skip. 

In communicating facts and passages Dr. Emerson is 
invaluable; in criticism of his father's verse and prose 
not so useful. There is always something more than the 
thought in what Emerson wrote; there is the sentiment, 
the association, the flavor; and in some of the poems, in 
single lines, or in the best prose sentences, the expres- 
sion which conveys all this briefly, rapidly, clearly as an 
algebraic formula, yet sweetly also- -as a strain of music 
salutes, enchants and illuminates the hearer—reaches 
as near perfection as is permitted to human language. 
Shakespeare had more of these passages, Dante had 
more picturesque ones, Carlyle's prose has a richer 
tone, --but in none of these writers is the intense mean- 
ing conveyed with more delight or conviction than in the 
best utterances of Emerson. 



(51) 

THE USES OF POETRY— -REFLECTIONS ON 

ARNOLD, EMERSON AND SCOTT 

Matthew Arnold in his school -reports (for he was a 
school- inspector as well as a poet and critic), constant- 
ly advised the reading and recitation of poetry in schools, 
among other uses, for the sake of enlarging the vocabu- 
lary of English children, which he found lamentably small 
in the middle and lower social classes. This was good 
counsel, and it had been given and followed in our Ameri- 
can schools long before Arnold "flourished "--an odd word 
to describe a man's temporal existence, but very applica- 
ble to Arnold, who always existed with a sort of sweep or 
flourish. Let us then consider some of the poets and their 
verses to-day, without special reference to any book or 
author- -for verse-making is now so universal that any one 
may rush into print with a volume of poems at the smallest 
provocation. Time sifts this mass of verses for us, drop- 
ping more and more of it into oblivion each hundred years, 
until at last we have only a few golden verses of Ennius or 
Sappho, which appear to be indestructible and do not get 
overlaid by the mass of crude ore from the latest poets. 
One of these, musing in that receptacle of poetry, an old 
library, thus uttered his meditations: 



80 



IN THE LIBRARY 

Look, there they stand, grim row on row, 

Gaunt quarto, portly folio, 

The sands of Time are slipping slow 

To us who view them . 
Here is a vellum dark with crime, 
And there are books of lore and rhyme, -- 
Shall we not find a sprig of thyme 

If we glance through them ? 

The bindings old, the covers worn, 
The pages tattered, soiled and torn; 
They look like maidens all forlorn, 

Upon the shelves here: 
There is a pathos in the place, 
Like tears upon a gray-beard's face; 
You shall not find the sportive trace 

Of merry elves here. 

I see the calm smile of a saint, 

Such as Angelico might paint, 

Beam forth on me beneath these quaint 

Moth-eaten covers; 
And here upon the title-page 
There is no name of pious sage, 
But two names linked, --and, I'll engage, 

A pair of lovers . 

Together they would sit and pore 
The sacred volume o'er and o'er, 
And reverently would adore 

The face they viewed there; 
They loved the quiet twilit nooks, 
The sweet seclusion of the books; 
Did he read well her woman's looks, 

And was she wooed there? 

These walls that are so gray and old 
Then gleamed in crimson and in gold; 
Like Christmas chimes the echoes rolled 

Of girlish laughter; 
And for a season all was well . 
Did dark Fate work a potent spell 
On gallant swain and damosel? — 

And what came after? 

Ah, then , what then? We cannot say; 
Their life was motley, grave and gay, 
And troubles met them on their way, 

To vex and grieve them; 
Long, long have past their joy and pain, 
Their days of sunshine or of rain; 
They've lived for us in youth again, 

But now- -we '11 leave them. 

Here is the touch-and-go suggestiveness of the modern 
poet, who no longer feels bound to tell the whole story, as 
the older minstrels did, nor to expand the interior sen- 
sations into a philosophical totality, as Wordsworth and 
Goethe liked to do . Browning mixes both manners and 
thus becomes full of instruction and inspiration to some 
readers, very tiresome to others, and a long enigma or 



charade to the world in general. The antipodes of Brown- 
ing is Scott, who could never be mistaken by any one in 
his meanings, so clear and fresh was his style, and so 
easy his choice of subjects and his mode of presenting 
them. Few modern poets have influenced English verse 
more than Scott- -very different persons, like Emerson, 
Whittier and even Browning himself, having taken a leaf 
now and then out of Scott's ballad books. He has proved 
as quotable as Pope, and much more poetical. He fol- 
lowed the lead of Goethe, whose "Goetz" he translated in 
1799, but he went beyond Goethe in that specialty of medi- 
eval romance. In 1824, William Hazlitt called Scott "the 
most popular of our living poets. His excellence," he 
adds, "is romantic narrative and picturesque descrip- 
tion; he has neither lofty imagination, nor depth or in- 
tensity of feeling; vividness of mind is apparently his 
chief and pervading excellence." It can hardly be said 
now that Scott is more popular than two or three of his 
contemporaries in poetry; and yet it may be true that he 
has more readers than any; for every boy still reads 
much of Scott. But Shelley and Keats, as well as Words- 
worth, have taken the lead of Scott with mature readers, 
while Byron, in some directions, excels him. Of Shelley, 
Hazlitt, who was a good critic, said in 1824: "The late 
Mr. Shelley was chiefly distinguished by a fervor of philo- 
sophic speculation, which he clad in the garb of fancy, and 
in words of Tyrian dye. He had spirit and genius, but his 
eagerness to give effect and produce conviction often de- 
feated his object, and bewildered himself and his read- 
ers." Hazlitt, in editing his volume of more than 800 
pages of "elegant extracts" in verse, makes no mention 
of Landor, and cites nothing from him. Yet nobody would 
now think of omitting Landor from a verse-anthology, 
though he might drop Southey out, and 20 others that Haz- 
litt put into his huge octavo. 

With all his discrimination and ingenuity, Henry Cabot 
Lodge is not quite careful enough to cover the whole ground 
in his researches. He doubts what Morris reports Wash- 
ington as having said in the convention of 1787, because 
that father of the constitution made only one speech there, 
on a minor point; but Abraham Baldwin of Georgia told 
William Plumer some 20 years later that he heard Wash- 
ington, after speaking on Mr. Gorham's motion, add a 
few words to the same effect as Morris's quotation. In 
this new Life of Washington Mr. Lodge makes few cita- 
tions from the poets, but even then not always correctly. 
Thus he says that young Washington, while wooing Mary 
Philipse, 'tarried a while in New York for the sake of the 
fair dame, but came to no conclusions, and then, like 
County Guy , he gave his bridle-rein a shake and rode 
away again to the south." Here is a double error, for 
the County Guy in "Quentin Durward" lets himself be 
waited for by the fair dame: 

The village maid steals through the shade 

Her shepherd's suit to hear; 
To beauty shy, by lattice high, 

Sings high-born cavalier; 
The star of Love, all stars above, 

Now reigns o'er earth and sky; 
And high and low the influence know, - - 

But where is County Guy? 



81 



Washington did nothing of the sort, and it was not Guy who 
"gave his bridle-rein a shake"; but a very different person 
— the false lover in "Rokeby," where the songs (of which 
his is one) are the best part of the poem: 

"A weary lot is thine, fair maid, 

A weary lot is thine ! 
To pull the thorn thy brow to braid, 

And press the rue for wine I 
A lightsome eye, a soldier's mien, 

A feather of the blue, 
A doublet of the Lincoln green, 

No more of me you knew 
My love! 

No more of me you knew. 

"The morn is merry June I trow, 

The rose is budding fain; 
But she shall bloom in winter snow, 

Ere we two meet again." 
He turned his charger as he spake 

Upon the river shore, 
He gave his bridle-reins a shake , 

Said, "Adieu for evermore 
My love! 

Adieu for evermore!" 

Now Scott borrowed this last verse from an old Scotch bal- 
lad, in which the lover, who is a Jacobite and has fled to 
Ireland, unwillingly bids his love adieu, because he must 
go to America: 

"It was a' for our rightful king 

That we left fair Scotland's strand, 

It was a' for our rightful king 
That we e'er saw Irish land 
My dear, 
That we e'er saw Irish land. 

"Now all is done that man can do, 

And all is done in vain! 
My love! my native land, adieu! 

For I must cross the main 
My dear, 

For I must cross the main." 



Allan-a-Dale to his wooing is come; 
The mother she asked of his household and home; 
"Though the castle of Richmond stand fair on the hill, 
My hall," quoth bold Allan, "shows gallanter still; 
'Tis the blue vault of heaven, with crescent so pale, 
And with all its bright spangles!" said Allan-a-Dale. 

The father was steel and the mother was stone; 
They lifted the latch and they bade him be gone; 
But loud on the morrow their wail and their cry; 
He had laughed on the lass with his bonny black eye. 
And she fled to the forest to hear a love-tale, 
And the youth it was told by was Allan-a-Dale. 

In giving his fickle lover "a feather of the blue," Scott, 
who read and remembered everything, may have had in 
mind Sir Henry Wotton's account of going to Rome in dis- 
guise in 1592 . "I entered Rome," he writes to Lord 
Zouch, "with a mighty blue feather in a black hat; which, 
though in itself it were a slight matter, yet surely did it 
work in the imagination of men three great effects. First, 
I was by it taken for no English, upon which depended the 
ground of all. Secondly, I was reputed as light in my 
mind as in my apparel (they are not dangerous men that 
are so). And, thirdly, no man could think that I desired 
to be unknown, who, by wearing of that feather took a 
course to make myself famous through Rome in a few 
days. These judgments and discourses of the people 
passing by me, and some pointing at me, I was fain to 
suffer. Safety and a conscience clear before my God 
were the things I sought there; credit is to be looked into 
in England." It is not often that one man has combined 
the dissimilar characters of poet and diplomat as Wotton 
did, --diplomacy being "a silent art," according to Lord 
Napier, and poetry a very loquacious or outspoken one. 
Wotton was a better poet than Dr. Franklin, though an 
inferior diplomatist; but in his own character he much 
resembled Franklin. He was a young man when he ex- 
amined and passed sentence upon Rome with its popes 
and cardinals; and afterward he knew well those princely 
favorites, Robert earl of Essex and the first Villiers, 
duke of Buckingham, whom he paralleled after the man- 
ner of Plutarch. In his old age he went a-fishing with 
Izaak Walton, and wrote verses thereon. 



He turned him round and right about, 

All on the Irish shore, 
He gave his bridle-reins a shake, 

With "Adieu for evermore 
My dear! 

Adieu for evermore ! " 

Perhaps Mr. Lodge is practicing the moral injunction 
of Mr. Howells, and forgetting Walter Scott as inconsist- 
ent with democratic institutions, and too much of a mug- 
wump for the republican party. It is in the same poem of 
"Rokeby"- -which is nearer a metrical novel than any other 
of Scott's books- -that occurs the fine song of "Brignal 
Banks," and also "Allan a Dale," which was such a favor- 
ite with Emerson, especially the last verses showing the 
power of love and the freedom of mind which the transcen- 
dentalists valued so much: 



(52) 
JOHN BURROUGHS, WHITMAN, THOREAU 
AND THE OUT-OF-DOORS 

To a genuine student the distinction between in-door 
and outdoor studies is not a very real thing, --for our 
thoughts must be aerated and tested by the standard of 
external nature, if we have first conceived them in the 
library as the chamber of meditation. The open air in 
some phase must be the environment of men who write; 
although few, like Thoreau, actually jot down their 
thoughts in the open air. Even Dr. Johnson, whose life 
would seem to most of us peculiarly an in-door one, was 
always perambulating cities, and once engaged himself 
in a "Journey to the Hebrides," which occupied him for 
months, and of which he has written entertainingly. 
When, therefore, John Burroughs calls his new book 



82 



"In-door Studies," he simply means that he has devoted 
himself to these criticisms and sketches to matters that 
do not directly relate to the aspects of Nature, but can 
be considered in the house as well as out-of-doors. Mr. 
Burroughs styles himself in this book a "literary natural- 
ist," thinking, perhaps, of that title which Channing be- 
stowed on his friend Thoreau — "the poet-naturalist "--and 
wishing to bring himself into that class, where, indeed, 
he properly belongs . The name describes the New York 
writer well enough, although he is not primarily a man of 
science, as science is now understood, but a man of let- 
ters, who cultivates literature as well as his fruit-farm 
on the Hudson, and has a good right to be heard upon liter- 
ary topics. He is also a man of thought, and some of his 
distinctions, in criticising Matthew Arnold and Gilbert 
White, are truly philosophical, though he might eschew 
the title of philosopher, should any seek to confer it on 
him. "I have lived long enough to know," he says, after 
expressing his disgust at Swinburne, 'that my own private 
likes and dislikes do not always turn out to be decrees of 
the Eternal." This is a philosophical discovery, and the 
frequent use of it gives moderation to criticism. 

Thoreau is the subject upon which Mr. Burroughs ex- 
pends his longest study in this volume, thereby rather 
negativing his remark in "An Egotistical Chapter"--"I am 
not conscious of any great debt to Thoreau." The debt is 
really great, and this essay shows that Mr. Burroughs is 
at least dimly conscious of it. No writer on external Na- 
ture in America since the "Week on the Concord and Mer- 
rimac" appeared can avoid the influence of Thoreau if he 
has ever read that author, any more than Thoreau could 
avoid the influence of Emerson. This is not to say that 
they imitate each other, as used to be said foolishly of 
Thoreau; but the image of a man of genius, once familiar- 
ly seen, rests in the mind and recurs as an influence in 
the work, whether he is admired or disliked, as we see 
by the great effect which Carlyle had on the English style 
of his period, although most of those who followed his ex- 
ample did not admire his style. Mr. Burroughs himself 
says in his suggestive essay on "Science and Literature," 
"Can there be any doubt that contact with a great charac- 
ter, a great soul, through literature, immensely sur- 
passes in educational value in moral and spiritual stimu- 
lus, contact with any of the forms or laws of physical na- 
ture, through science?" Such is the effect which Thoreau 
produces on those who read him with any understanding of 
what he was saying, and he does this by his close relation 
with the totality or sum of things , and not merely with the 
items or particulars which are so absorbing to the spe- 
cialist in science. "Ah, those youthful days ! " Mr. Bur- 
roughs quotes him as saying, "are they never to return? 
when the walker does not too enviously observe particu- 
lars, but sees, hears, scents, tastes, and feels only him- 
self, --the phenomena that showed themselves in him, his 
expanding body, his intellect and his heart. No worm or 
insect, quadruped or bird confined his view, but the un- 
bounded universe was his." Thus was the egotism of Tho- 
reau nothing but universality brought to a focus--the mac- 
rocosm in the microcosm. Some failure to perceive this 
lurks even in the eulogistic essay on Thoreau which opens 
with Thoreau's account of his unpaid pursuits, --"inspec- 
tor of storms, surveyor of forest paths and all across- 
lots routes, shepherd and herder of the wild stock of the 



town," etc., --and closes with his parable of the cypress- 
tree, having reference to wise men and mugwumps of all 
times and countries: 

Of the many celebrated trees which the Most High God 
has created, lofty and umbrageous, they call none azad 
or free, excepting the cypress which bears no fruit; what 
mystery is there in this? The sage replied: "Each has 
its appropriate produce and appointed season, during the 
continuance of which it is fresh and blooming, and dur- 
ing their absence dry and withered, --to neither of which 
states is the cypress exposed, being always flourishing; 
and of this nature are the azads or religious independents . 
Fix not thy heart on that which is transitory, for the Ti- 
gris will continue to flow through Bagdad after the race 
of caliphs is extinct; if thy hand has plenty, be liberal as 
the date-tree; but if it affords nothing to give away, be 
an azad or free man, like the cypress." 

This distinction between the freeman or gentleman, and 
the rest of mankind- -that he has something to give away, 
or to be looked at, while they have only something to sell, 
or to eat, drink and wear- -was well known to Thoreau, as 
to Emerson and the other azads of his time; and it must be 
considered in estimating his character and influence. Mat- 
thew Arnold was at his best when he was most an azad;-- 
when he descended into the region of conventionalities, 
whether English or Athenian, he became third-rate and at 
last tiresome, --as in his once famous attempt to weigh 
Emerson in the same balance with Swift and Voltaire. 
Mr. Burroughs feels this and expresses it, after his 
fashion, though he makes too many exceptions against 
Emerson. In the contemplation of beauty we do not stop 
to criticise the shape of the eye, the tilt of the nose, or 
the wave of the hair, --it is the sparkle of influence which 
we feel and which kindles in the heart, --as Mr. Burroughs 
cites Plutarch saying: "There is such a communication, 
such a flame raised by one glance, that those must be al- 
together unacquainted with love who wonder at the Median 
naptha that takes fire at a distance from the flame." 

Mr. Burroughs writes well and on a variety of topics in 
this volume (published by Houghton, who will soon bring 
out a volume of Thoreau entitled "Autumn, " and edited by 
Mr. Blake) but he is continually recurring to favorite au- 
thors, --to Carlyle, Emerson, Thoreau, Goethe, Plutarch 
and Arnold, --finally to Walt Whitman, of whom in this 
book he does not say so much as he thinks. In one pas- 
sage, however, he briefly points out a source of Whit- 
man's strength, and of his unpopularity, --which was to 
some extent the same in Thoreau. American literature, 
he says, "has less bulk than the English or German, less 
body and more grace and refinement. Our poets and crit- 
ics, like our pleasure vehicles, lack timber, lack mass; 
our popular novelists have point, but lack body. There is 
one notable exception to this American tendency toward 
over refinement of form, and that is furnished by Walt 
Whitman. Mass and strength, and all the primary quali- 
ties of both body and mind are fully attended to by him. 
Probably this, more than anything else, is the reason why 
his poems are so distasteful to the majority of his country- 
men, and why his reception abroad has been more cordial 
than at home." There is much truth in this. An example 
of bulk in English literature is Dr. Johnson, to whom, in 



83 



contrast with Carlyle, our author gives a passing glance, 
suggested by a remark of Mr. Blrrell, the new member 
of Parliament in his "Obiter Dicta" (which, by the way, is 
quite In the American vein). Dr. Johnson's innumerable 
pages are now reduced within a small compass, except 
those which Boswell wrote for him; but there remains the 
substance or crystallized product of a great writer. He is 
not like the Rousseau-philosopher in "Rasselas," that the 
prince soon found was one of the sages whom he should 
"understand less as he heard him longer "--for Johnson Is 
easily understood. It does not require a knowledge of conic 
sections to appreciate the fact that you have been knocked 
down with a club, — whether the blow was delivered in a 
parabola or a hyperbole. Indeed, Johnson imitated the sage 
he scoffs at, and when he had said a good thing, "looked 
round him with a placid air, and enjoyed the consciousness 
of his own beneficence." He fell back, in his wisdom, on 
the storage-reservoirs of human nature, and practised 
himself the advice which his lunatic astronomer of Egypt 
gave to hnlac in bequeathing to him "the regulation of the 
weather and the distribution of the seasons." Said the as- 
tronomer: "Do not, in thy administration of the year, in- 
dulge thy pride by innovation; do not please thyself with 
thinking thou canst make thyself renowned to all future 
ages by disordering the season. The memory of mischief 
is no desirable fame." It was this same astronomer who 
translated by his own experience that of too many scien- 
tific men, when he had pleased himself for a while with 
the attention paid to his instruction by the princess and 
Pekuah, who finally disclosed to him their rank, "lest he 
should draw any false hopes from the civilities he re- 
ceived." Said the astronomer: "I have chosen wrong. I 
have passed my time in study without experience; in the 
attainment of sciences which can, for the most part, be 
but remotely useful to mankind. If I have obtained any 
prerogatives above other students, they have been accom- 
panied with fear, disquiet and scrupulosity; but even of 
these prerogatives I have begun to question the reality. 
When I have been for a few days lost in pleasing dissipa- 
tion, I am always tempted to think that my inquiries have 
ended in error, and that I have suffered much, and suf- 
fered it in vain." 

No doubt Johnson was here thinking of himself and his 
dictionary, as well as of the men of science at variance 
with religion, with whom he had little patience. His Imlac, 
who was an Abyssinian Johnson (about as natural to that re- 
gion of the earth as were the splendid kings and queens 
whom Heliodorus, the bishop, imagined there in his Abys- 
sinian novel), thus discoursed to the princess on the im- 
mortality of the soul: "Whatever perishes is destroyed by 
the solution of its contexture, and separation of its parts; 
nor can we conceive how that which has no parts can be 
corrupted or impaired. An ideal form Is no less real than 
material bulk; yet an ideal form has no extention. What 
space does the idea of a pyramid occupy, more than the 
idea of a grain of corn? Or can either idea suffer lacera- 
tion? As is the effect, such is the cause; as thought, such 
is the power that thinks; a power, impassive and indis- 
cerptible. The Being which made the soul surely can de- 
stroy it, since, however imperishable, it receives from 
a superior nature its power of duration. That it will not 
perish by any inherent cause of decay may be shown by 
philosophy; but philosophy can tell no more. That It will 



not be annihilated by him that made it, we must humbly 
learn from higher authority." "How gloomy," said Rasse- 
las, "would be the mansions of the dead to him who did 
not know that he should never die; that what now acts shall 
continue its agency, and what now thinks shall think on 
forever." Mr. Burroughs, though he does not quote this, 
seems to agree with it, as the philosophers of Concord 
and Farmlngton do, for he says what Thoreau did in his 
own way: "Physical science pursued in and for itself, 
results more and more in barren analysis, --in fact be- 
comes more and more mechanical, and rests in a me- 
chanical conception of the universe. And the universe 
considered as a machine, however scientific it may be, 
has neither value to the spirit, nor charm to the imagi- 
nation." 



(53) 
D. A. WASSON, RELIGIOUS TRADITIONS AND 
THE CONCORD OF EMERSON'S FATHER 

Nobody knows what the researches of genealogists 
will bring forth. Here is the biographer of David Atwood 
Wasson, the idealist preacher and political writer, trac- 
ing out a connection between his ancestors and those of 
George Washington and Gustavus Vasa. "Wass," he tells 
us, is the same as Wasa or Vasa, --the original meaning 
being "keen" or "bold"; then there are two derivatives -- 
the Scandinavian, ending in "son," and the Saxon in "ing, " 
— Washington being short for "Wassingaton"--the town of 
the Wassings. But Atwood Wasson's first American an- 
cestor came over with the Scotch-Irish in 1724 or there- 
about, --and therefore was presumptively a Scotchman. 
Washington, so far as we know (when Mr. Waters has 
published his discovery of the true pedigree we shall 
know more), was wholly English, though branches of 
that family have settled in Holland and Ireland as well 
as in America. I find some curious slurs upon the early 
ministerial career of Emerson's grandfather, the revo- 
lutionary patriot, William Emerson of Concord, — in the 
diary of Dr. Joseph Lee, the old Concord tory, which has 
lately been printed. Dr. Lee was refused admission to 
full communion in the Concord church about 1767, and 
thence sprung up bitterness against his young pastor, 
William Emerson, who was ordained in Concord, Janu- 
ary 1, 1766. Under that date in his diary, but evidently 
written some time later, we find the factious doctor thus 
transcribing his grievances, and the misspent youth of 
his minister: "Jonathan Puffer was ordered to go after a 
minister, a Mr. Sam Williams, but he went another way 
after another man (Rev. W. Emerson), one that was not 
a preacher, and for want of ballast had made many blun- 
ders; he never had loved his book, and it was very un- 
likely he should give himself to study at this age." (He 
was nearly 23.) On Mr. Puffer's return Dr. Lee had a 
colloquy with him as follows: "Why did you go after a 
man we did not think of nor speak of, to you nor anybody 
else?" Puffer saith, "Mr. Clark (of Lexington) recom- 
mended him very highly and said he was a most excellent 
man and a good preacher, and one that would make a good 
minister; and Lieut. Simon Hunt has seen him and told 
me that he believed Billy Emerson was a converted man." 
Now adds Dr. Lee, "Clark said, 'I know that there is a 



84 
young Emerson [who] has been at college, but have not 
heard that he has even thought of preaching, for he is a 
wild chap.* Now this Billy Emerson came to Concord and 
preached, Mr. Puffer had taken care to let some of the 
weak sisterhood know that he was a converted preacher, 
and said that he was determined Concord should have a 
converted man for their minister, let it cost what it would." 
The experiment resulted well, but it seems there was some 
ground for old Mr. Clark's strictures on the young man. 
Dr. Lee adds in his diary: "Mr. Wm. Emerson came to 
my house to see me a certain day, and we talked over all 
the matters relating to his coming into town, and how he 
had spent his time since he left college, all as calm as a 
watch. He replied that he was very sensible that he had 
fooled away his time, and that he was very much to blame 
and ought to go back to college and study divinity two years 
before he undertook to supply a pulpit in any place . He said 
also that he had preached but twice before he came to Con- 
cord, and that he had made but two sermons at that time." 
Mr. Puffer seems to have resembled Saul, who went out 
to look for one thing and found another, a very good find, 
as it proved, for this "Billy Emerson," as his monument 
declares, "was enthusiastic, eloquent, affectionate and 
pious," in his preaching, notwithstanding he had studied so 
little; "was popular, eloquent, persuasive and devotional"; 
he "adapted himself with remarkable ease to all circum- 
stances and occasions, and his doctrine was evangelical." 
He died as a chaplain in the army before he was 33, but 
years afterward his daughter, Mary Moody Emerson, when 
riding in the stagecoach near her father's meeting-house, 
was told by a stranger that he had heard from William Em- 
erson in that house the most eloquent sermon he had ever 
listened to. It was from this ancestry, apparently, that our 
Emerson inherited his gift of speech, which others of his 
family had, Wasson, whose "essays, religious, social and 
political," were published some months ago by Lee & Shep- 
ard, was one of the many who came under Emerson's in- 
fluence early, and for a time lived near him in Concord, 
where also he is buried. Of this period, 1859-60, he has 
nothing to say in his autobiography, for that only covers 
the first 12 years of his life. It is a great pity, for this 
part of the volume is the most charming of all, and the 
rest of the memoir, though useful, is not by any means so 
striking. His account of the tortures which Calvinism in- 
flicted on him as a boy agrees with that given by Horace 
Mann, and other childish victims of that faith; but there 
is a sportive element in Wasson's version of it which re- 
deems its dreariness a little . To him also, as Emerson 
said, Calvinism was "a girdle," but, it must be confessed, 
a hot girdle, as the Scotch say. This is a part of his pic- 
ture: 

Calvinism and the contrary were distinguished to my 
mind as religion and irreligion; and there was nothing to 
soften the force of this impression, much less to breed 
conscious doubt of its correctness. What riddles children 
are! I hated this religion, and I adhered to it with pas- 
sionate loyalty. He who had questioned it in my presence 
would have seemed to me a bad man. I remember to this 
day the shudder with which I heard a certain individual in 
Castine described as a "Unitarian Universalist." It was 
a combination of iniquity which even 'total depravity" did 
not explain. How could a man be so wicked? And yet what 



a front of brass I opposed to this religion In which I so be- 
lieved I When I heard of young people who had succumbed 
and been converted, I despised them . Of course conver- 
sion had got to come before I died, but what a coward one 
must be to look out for his safety so far beforehand ! I did 
not like God; and there was not a word connected with re- 
ligion, as I knew it, that made on me a pleasant impres- 
sion. The preacher droned; I said, "When will he get 
through?" The exhorter talked; not a word did I hear. 
And there was one ceremony which especially vexed me- 
the communion. It always came after the morning serv- 
ice, and the children had to stay it through and look on. 
Dinner-time had come; I was hungry as a young bear, and 
the sight of my elders dawdling over their bread and wine 
provoked me immeasurably. "Eating themselves, and 
keeping me here half -starved." 

Seldom has this holy rite been regarded by grown peo- 
ple in the light of this boy's dissatisfaction. Equally 
striking are his comments on the way to bring up a boy. 
"I do not believe in trying to make boys 'Christians,' nor 
do I think the New Testament suitable reading for them . 
It is a great deal too good; that hot Syrian sun makes too 
glowing a summer for these vernal natures . I cannot 
speak of girls with entire confidence, but boys, I am sure, 
are either pagans or hypocrites, --or at best, greenhouse 
plants that will never rightly endure outdoor weather. By 
my vote their Bible should be Plutarch. Parts of the Old 
Testament might be useful to them and much safer than 
the New. At 15, when the heats of passion are beginning, 
and an inward sovereign is required, I would put into 
their hands Epictetus and Antoninus, and when these were 
well digested, add the New Testament." This advice runs 
counter to the whole New England or American spirit, but 
there is something in it worth considering. Hardly any- 
thing else in the book is so impressive, although there is 
much besides which ought to be read, and there are many 
passages of real scientific or political value; for Wasson 
comprehended modern science in its scope, if not in its 
details, and had a clear view of politics from one aspect. 
This was not the ultra democratic point of view, and 
many of us would not quite agree with Wasson, but there 
is much to be said in favor of his opinion, which was in 
substance that of the Massachusetts Puritans whom he 
applauds, — that authority comes from above, and not 
from beneath, --that a selected suffrage based on this 
idea, is better than universal suffrage, and that Rous- 
seau and his philosophy are the great bane of American 
politics, which should be "republican," and not "demo- 
cratic," in the sense in which Wasson employs those 
terms. Much in the volume is written to support this 
thesis, and were it expressed a little more simply, this 
would be very effective argument. But there is a curious 
involution, or over-refinement in Wasson's style, other- 
wise picturesque and clear, which repels the ordinary 
reader, and hinders the full effect of the profound thought 
involved in these sentences. When he narrates he is sim- 
ple and forcible, as in the following passage describing 
his native town of Brooksville, near Castine in Maine: 

Our former rural civilization, with its simple habits, 
moderate desires and autonomous life has disappeared; 
the country is now but a suburb of the city. I remember 



85 
when, in a town 200 miles from Boston, the prices of labor 
and of most commodities had a strictly local adjustment. 
The butter from the farm sold at an invariable price year 
after year. Wages were $1 a day in haying time and $12 
a month by the year. Cloth was made in the house, with 
some assistance from a mill near by, which received a 
portion of the fabric in payment. Money transactions were 
extremely limited; almost all rates were fixed by local cus- 
tom; money-making, in the modern sense, was scarcely 
known, fortunes being accumulated, if at all, by slow and 
constant gains; he was rich who was taxed for $10, 000. 
The ups and downs of the metropolis, the mutations and 
changes of commerce, were but matters of far-off rumor; 
the panic of 1836-7 went over us like a wind in the upper 
air, — we saw the clouds fly and that was all. Everything 
has changed since then, though the township has gained lit- 
tle, either in population or wealth, while it has undoubtedly 
gained nothing in general comfort. The local adjustment 
and general fixity of prices, the easy calculation of income 
and expense, the independence of city manners and muta- 
tions, the homely, equable life, all have disappeared with 
the open wood-fire and the sanded floor. At the same time 
commercial centralization has been rapidly proceeding. 
Forty years ago, Newburyport or almost any coast town of 
Massachusetts, was far more independent of Boston than 
Boston now is of New York. A banker, in answer to a re- 
mark upon the effect on the country of commercial de- 
moralization in New York, said, "Yes, disease of the 
heart is dangerous." Commercial connections has al- 
ready reached a stage at which it may be compared to 
physiological unity. 

This is vigorous writing, and, though not literally just 
to the new as compared with the old, --for "general com- 
fort" is not only greater in rural New England than 50 years 
ago, but has reached a class (the foreign peasant) which 
then lived in misery- -it describes very fairly a state of 
things now passed away. Wasson, like all poetical persons, 
regrets this, and sees the beauty of the old, --yet he and 
men like him were active agents in destroying the old equi- 
librium, with which Calvinism , which he detested, had 
much to do. He was not, as most persons are not, quite 
ready to accept the consequences of his own acts; he would 
eat his cake and have it too; and he praises a uniformity of 
life in which, when young or middle-aged, he found it im- 
possible to exist happily. Looked back upon it is idyllic: 
but in fact the evils of civilization were there, unperceived 
by the boy, and perhaps no less, though working more slow- 
ly than the corresponding evils now. Nor does this volume 
always, or commonly exhibit Wasson as repining over in- 
evitable change and sighing for the past. He was, in fact, 
commonly a bold and cheerful thinker, expecting the world 
to justify itself as it moved onward; the other mood had 
something to do, as Carlyle's had, with a long invalidism 
that would not allow free play to his hope and sunny imagi- 
nation. Naturally he was an optimist like Emerson and all 
his school, and this, not because he did not see the painful 
side of things, but because he looked up and not down. The 
volume, though only a small portion of what Wasson wrote, 
and perhaps preliminary to more, is full of deep thought, 
sincere expression, and lively fancy. 



(54) 
THE CONCORD SCHOOL- — SOME 
CORRECTIONS AND A DEFENSE 

As the letter reprinted from the St. Louis Globe - 
Democrat attempts to give the history of a matter of 
which I have some knowledge, the Summer School of 
Philosophy and Literature at Concord, it seems proper 
that I should correct a few of the errors . There is a 
story told of the Duke of Wellington and his Irish friend, 
Croker, which bears on this case. As they were once 
dining where the conversation turned on the newly invent- 
ed percussion caps which the duke was introducing in the 
British army, Croker contradicted or corrected Welling- 
ton on some point. This led the soldier to say to the ci- 
vilian, with that free use of Scripture language which has 
prevailed among British officers ever since "our army 
swore terribly in Flanders": 

"Croker, you know a great deal more about the battle 
of Waterloo than I do, but I'll be d — d if I haven't as 
much knowledge of copper caps as you have." Concern- 
ing what the Boston correspondent of the St. Louis Globe- 
Democrat calls 'the Hegelian system of philosophy," I 
yield to his superior wisdom; but having been the Secre- 
tary of the Concord School from its first inception, I be- 
lieve I know as much about that as he can tell me. He 
speaks of 'the famous school of philosophy Emerson 
founded 10 years ago." Emerson was in no sense its 
founder, but Alcott was; and this historic fact the School 
in its publications recognized and stated. Emerson ac- 
cepted the plan of his friend, and gave his co-operation 
for three years --but that was all. He died before the 
fourth session of the school opened in 1882, and there 
were six sessions after his death, at all which the at- 
tendance was larger than at the former three sessions. 
It is, therefore, incorrect to say that "The first blow the 
school received was the death of Emerson." Judging by 
the interest manifested, his death did not affect the school 
unfavorably. The correspondent next says: "Then came 
the death of Bronson Alcott, and after his death the school 
ceased to teach unadulterated transcendentalism . One 
Sunday there were lectures on plants" (perhaps a mis- 
print for Dante) "and the next summer lectures on Goethe. 
Then Davidson came with some strange ideas and helped 
Professor Harris to keep things going." All this is a 
chaos of blunders: Mr. Alcott died in March, 1888, and 
there have been no lectures on any subject since his 
death. The school never 'taught unadulterated transcen- 
dentalism," whatever that may be; --but from the first 
three quite distinct currents of philosophy flowed to- 
gether in its teachings—of which only one was what is 
usually termed "New England Transcendentalism." Pro- 
fessor Davidson was a lecturer in the first year (1879); 
he then resided in Europe for some years, and on his 
return resumed his Concord lectures; had the session 
of 1 888 been held he would have lectured in two of its 
courses. 

The lectures on Goethe preceded those on Dante, and 
Mr. Alcott was present at some of both. The Goethe 
lectures occurred in 1 885 , and were published in a vol- 
ume as those of a previous year on Emerson had been. 
These two volumes by Houghton & Mifflin contain an ac- 
count of the origin and course of the school, which this 



86 
correspondent never saw, apparently, but which he might 
well read. He next goes on to say: "Three years ago Pro- 
fessor Harris and Philosopher Davidson began to disagree. 
Harris was a favorite with the women who came to Con- 
cord, and Davidson was not. He pretended to scorn them," 
--and then he "pretends" to quote certain words of Profes- 
sor Davidson "in the log cabin," in scurrilous defamation 
of his friend, Harris. There is as much of truth in this 
statement as there is of "logs" in the cabin," which is the 
little Hillside Chapel, built of boards, and without a "log" 
anywhere near it, except the trunks of the trees that wave 
above it. 

In some respects these two philosophers agreed and in 
some they disagreed when they first met in St. Louis more 
than 20 years ago; and this independent accord and diver- 
gence of their opinions has remained unbroken, and they 
have lectured in the same course at Farmington, New York, 
Chicago and elsewhere, as well as at Concord, since the 
alleged quarrel and defamation took place in 1886. Pro- 
fessor Davidson is incapable, of course, of such language 
as this correspondent ascribes to him; he has probably 
"shaken the dust of Concord from his shoes," as he would 
brush off these falsehoods, if it were worth while; but he 
has never withdrawn nor been excluded from the Concord 
fellowship, and he was engaged to lecture in the course of 
1888. This was given up, chiefly on account of the death 
of Mr. Alcott, and it is as far as possible from the truth 
to say, as this correspondent does, "Professor Harris 
looked at the situation and decided not to reopen the school, 
believing there would not be visitors enough to pay the 
janitor for repairing the benches." 

In fact, the school each year gave away admission tick- 
ets enough to have furnished its treasury with a handsome 
surplus each year, had we desired to make as much money 
from the sessions as the newspaper correspondents made 
by reporting or mis-reporting its discussions. The rea- 
sons for closing the Concord School were partly of senti- 
ment and partly of convenience . Several of its original 
lecturers were dead--Alcott, Emerson, Professor Peirce, 
Wasson, for instance; others were infirm or at a great dis- 
tance—Miss Peabody, Dr. Bartol, Dr. Jones, Dr. Mont- 
gomery, Dr. Kedney, Mr. Snider--and to continue the 
courses would involve putting many new lecturers in these 
vacant places . As the bond of unity at Concord was one of 
friendship rather than of interest or partisanship, this 
enforced absence of so many persons, and the changes 
brought by time and chance, had an influence on several of 
the faculty. The property of the school was held by trus- 
tees, originally three in number, all living in Concord, 
Mr. Alcott, Mr. S. H. Emery, Jr., and myself. The 
death of Mr. Alcott and the removal of Mr. Emery to 
Illinois, left me the sole resident trustee; and the labor 
of organizing the courses each year fell largely to my 
share also. This happened at a time when I was rather 
inclined, from circumstances affecting myself, to relin- 
quish burdens rather than to assume new ones. Similar 
reasons of convenience existed in the case of Professor 
Harris; and it was therefore decided last winter to let 
the past work of the school speak for itself and to sus- 
pend its courses for a time. They may be resumed here- 
after or they may not, but in any case its chief work has 
been accomplished . It has been the pioneer to many other 
schools of the same general character and has done some- 



thing to resist the agnostic and materialistic tendencies 
of thought in America. 

F. B. Sanborn. 
Concord, Mass., July 23, 1889. 



(55) 
JANE AUSTEN AND LOUISA MAY ALCOTT 

Mrs. Maiden's life of Jane Austen- -that quiet, origi- 
nal novelist of Steventon rectory, who began to write fic- 
tion 100 years ago, and became famous soon after Walter 
Scott died--has little incident, much quotation, and hard- 
ly so much revelation of the inner life of Miss Austen as 
was to be expected, but it is an interesting, if rather dull 
book. It is published by Roberts Bros, in their "Famous 
Women" series, and is the first real biography of Jane 
Austen that has appeared . It is less affecting and modern 
than Mrs. Cheney's life of Louisa Alcott, but presents 
the career of a much more regular and well-disciplined 
person than Miss Alcott was, for Miss Austen was con- 
formity itself, in an age and country where conformity 
was exacted of everybody, and especially of literary wom- 
en, A career like Mary Walstonecraft's or George Sand's, 
or even the innocent non-conformity of Louisa Alcott, 
would have subjected Jane Austen to tortures which those 
of the Inquisition hardly surpassed in effect upon the vic- 
tim. She ran no such risks, and suffered no public mar- 
tyrdom; but, of course, her private life, like that of most 
single women, was a kind of martyrdom, softened, in 
her case, by the solace of writing satirical novels about 
those who gave her pain or annoyance. Her satire was 
good-natured, but none the less keen, and had a quality 
which kept it alive after the subjects of it, and the age to 
which they belonged have moldered into oblivion. 

Miss Alcott has been more popular in her own time 
than Miss Austen was or ever can be; but she was not a 
better writer, nor so close an observer of what passed 
before her keen eyes. Her success, like that of Miss 
Edgeworth, was due to her striking a vein of character 
in which people became deeply interested, while Miss 
Austen held the mirror up to nature so modestly that 
only the few became absorbed in the scenes she depicted. 
Miss Alcott 's new book, a posthumous volume of "Lulu's 
Library," will be eagerly read by children, but will add 
little to the impression already made by her. Like all 
her books, and those of "Susan Coolidge," it is published 
by Roberts; and it is accompanied by another of Miss 
Woolsey's stories for girls, and a volume of additional 
"Verses" from the same facile pen. 

Miss Alcott 's latest volume- -the third of "Lulu's 
Library "--opens with those recollections of her child- 
hood so widely published after her death, not only in the 
Youth's Companion, for which they were furnished, but 
in other newspapers, --and lately used to some extent by 
Mrs. Cheney in her biography. What Miss Alcott says 
at the close of this chapter is eminently true: "Every 
experience went into the caldron to come out as froth or 
evaporate in smoke till time and suffering strengthened 
and clarified the mixture of truth and fancy, and a whole- 
some draught for children began to flow pleasantly and 
profitably." This, perhaps, describes the result of her 



87 
life's labor as well as any one sentence could. The eight 
stories that follow have all been printed before, I think, 
but will be read with a new interest since the death of the 
author. It is to be expected that other books may follow, 
made up from those earlier writings by which Miss Alcott 
supported herself in the years when success was so slow 
to come. One of her later portraits adorns this little book, 
and each story has a pretty head-piece descriptive of some- 
thing in it, — with generally a tail-piece, too, less descrip- 
tive and more emblematic. It seems that besides the statue 
of Miss Alcott by Elwell of New York, there will be a bust 
of her by Walton Ricketson, the Concord sculptor, which 
is destined for the public library there. 



MRS. 



(56) 
STOWE'S LIFE OF HERSELF 



Harriet Beecher Stowe but yields to the prevailing spirit, 
which demands that those who help to make history shall 
also write it, when she offers, as her last contribution to 
the reading public, her autobiography through her publish- 
ers, Houghton, Mifflin & Co. The bulky volume is edited 
and compiled by Mrs. Stowe 's son, Rev. Charles Edward 
Stowe, but is none the less her own, for it has undergone 
her personal supervision throughout . It is a frank and 
simple narrative of the life of a woman whose active work 
for the world is far more interesting than her personality 
can be, and as the latest addition to the mass of material 
gathering to the hand of the future historian of our civil 
war and its causes, is it chiefly valuable. As a factor in 
the great crisis, Mrs. Stowe holds a unique as well as im- 
portant place, for never before "Uncle Tom's Cabin" was 
written had a single book produced such national results. 
The effect of this story the author immediately after its 
publication in a letter to Lord Carlisle divides under four 
heads: "First, To soften and moderate the bitterness of 
feeling in extreme abolitionists. Second, To convert to 
abolitionist views many whom this same bitterness had 
repelled. Third, To inspire the free colored people with 
self-respect, hope and confidence. Fourth, To inspire 
universally through the country a kindlier feeling toward 
the negro race." This temperate statement only outlines 
the work Harriet Beecher Stowe accomplished for her 
country. The fortunate removal of Dr. Lyman Beecher 
from Massachusetts to Cincinnati in 1832, where he be- 
came president of Lane theological seminary, when his 
daughter Harriet was in her early womanhood, and where 
she lived until 1850, gave her an opportunity to come into 
immediate contact with the negroes, and with the race 
prejudice of the white people, that would not have been 
possible in New England; and to the impressions, gained 
in the border-land between slave and free, doubtless much 
of the vividness of incident in her novels is due. 

Harriet Elizabeth Beecher was of the Puritan stock of 
Connecticut, where she was born in 1811 during Dr. Ly- 
man Beecher's pastorate in Litchfield, and where her 
mother, Roxanna Foote, died four years later. And Puri- 
tan was the law her early life was ordered by. Hymns 
and the Westminster catechism, and sermons for light 
reading, after the fashion of the times, nourished the 
child's eager love of books, and in spite of the one bit 
of worldly amusement afforded by a discovered volume 



of "Arabian Nights," polemical she was naturally. At 
12 years of age, at a school exhibition, there was read 
aloud her argument on the problem, "Can the immortali- 
ty of the soul be proved by the light of nature?" which 
question, with many Johnsonian words and elaborate the- 
ological conclusions, she answered in the negative. Soon 
after this Harriet was given into the care of her sister 
Catherine, the eldest of the family, who in 1824 had be- 
gun a private school in Hartford. In time Harriet taught, 
as well as studied, in this school, and during these years 
she passed through the usual religious experiences of an 
emotional, impulsive nature, struggling in vain to con- 
form to the old Calvinistic doctrines. In Mrs. Stowe's 
case, as in that of her younger brother, Henry Ward 
Beecher, nature won the day, but it is to these personal 
conditions and to her intimacy with the life and thought 
of old New England that her best work, from a literary 
standpoint, is due in "The Minister's Wooing," and "Old- 
town Folks." After the family went to Ohio--for Catherine 
Beecher established in Cincinnati "The western female in- 
stitute," and conducted it on the college plan—Harriet con- 
tinued to teach in the new school, until her marriage with 
Prof. Calvin Stowe of Lane theological seminary in 1836. 

With ill-health, poverty and the care of her children, 
Mrs. Stowe yet found time to write stories, chiefly for 
the money returns they yielded, but it was not until the 
passage of the fugitive slave law that she was roused to 
use her pen by another motive, and wrote "Uncle Tom's 
Cabin." With sure instinct she seized upon the religious 
element in humanity for her appeal. In a letter written 
to Frederick Douglass in the course of the publication of 
Uncle Tom's Cabin, in July, 1851, Mrs. Stowe says: "I 
have looked all the field over with despairing eyes; I see 
no hope but in Him; this movement must and will become 
a purely religious one. The light will spread in churches, 
the tone of feeling will rise, Christians North and South 
will give up all connection with, and take up their testi- 
mony against slavery, and thus the work will be done." 
The belief in the inspiration of her book that Mrs . Stowe 
from the first has maintained, is in itself a cause of its 
tremendous effect. She says: "My heart was bursting 
with the anguish and praying God to let me do a little and 
to cause my cry to be heard." After the publication of 
this book, which brought her money as well as fame, 
Mrs. Stowe found herself pledged to the cause; both sides 
of the Atlantic made claims upon her in the name of abo- 
lition, and her time, until the emancipation, was crowded 
with letters, tracts, visits, and personal appeals from 
the public, whose property she had in a sense become. 
Her activity was equal to the demands. "The Key to 
Uncle Tom's Cabin" and "D red" followed swiftly, and 
she paid a visit to England that was like a "progress" 
rather than an ordinary journey. Praise and abuse were 
both allotted to her, and praise is still her meed, for 
"Uncle Tom" yet receives the popular vote. 

A good part of the biography, perhaps too much, is 
taken up with the friendships with the great of the earth 
that fame brought her. The unfortunate episode of the 
vindication of Lady Byron is treated with discrimination 
and taste; and the record of the later years of Mrs. 
Stowe's life is especially interesting in the glimpse it 
gives of her peculiar faith in a sublimated form of Spirit- 
ualism. This may have been shaped in a degree by Prof. 



Stowe's extraordinary psychological experiences (phenome- 
na whose description by himself forms a remarkable chap- 
ter in this volume), but arose of course from her own fer- 
vent religiousness of sentiment. In regard to the common 
forms of Spiritualism her views are decisive: 

Each friend takes away a portion of ourselves . There 
was some part of our being related to him as to no other. 
A portion of our thoughts has become useless and burden- 
some, and we turn to the stone at the door of the sepulcher. 
. . .When we hear sometimes of persons of the strongest 
and clearest minds becoming credulous votaries of certain 
spiritualistic circles, let us not wonder; it is only an indi- 
cation of the desperation of that heart hunger which in part 
it appeases. Ah, were it so that when we go forth weeping 
in the gray dawn, bearing spices and odors which we long 
to pour forth for the beloved dead, we should indeed find 
the stone rolled away and an angel sitting on it! But for us 
the stone must be rolled away by an unquestionable angel, 
whose countenance is as the lightning, who executes no 
doubtful juggle by pale moonlight or starlight, but rolls 
back the stone in fair open morning, and sits on it. But no 
such angel have we seen, --no such sublime, unquestion- 
able, glorious manifestation. And when we look at what 
is offered to us, ah! who that had a friend in heaven could 
wish them to return in such wise as this! That our beauti- 
ful, our glorified ones should stoop lower then even to the 
medium of their cast-off bodies, to juggle, and rap, and 
squeak, and perform mountebank tricks with tables and 
chairs; to recite over in weary sameness harmless tru- 
isms, which we were wise enough to say for ourselves!. . . 
We have read with some attention weary pages of spiritual 
communication purporting to come from Bacon, Sweden- 
borg and others, and long accounts from divers spirits of 
things seen in the spirit land, and we can conceive of no 
more appalling prospect than to have them true. 

Mrs. Stowe's own consoling faith rests in the "comfort for 
the unavoidable heart-breaking separations of death, that 
there should be, in that dread unknown, one all-powerful 
friend with whom it is possible to commune, and from 
whose spirit there may come a response to us. Our Eld- 
er Brother, the partaker of our nature, is not only in the 
spirit- land, but is all powerful here. It is he that shutteth 
and no man openeth, and openeth and no man shutteth. . . . 
He is the true bond of union between the spirit world and 
our souls." This emotion of faith is the power behind Mrs. 
Stowe's work. She spoke the truth and the peoples of the 
earth listened. 



(57) 
RECENT BOOKS ABOUT EMERSON AND THOREAU 

"I think there be six Richmonds in the field." There 
is a press of Woodburys in the literary field just now, -- 
Charles J. Woodbury, whose "Talks with Ralph Waldo Em- 
erson, " first published in England by Kegan Paul, has now 
been issued in New York by the Baker & Taylor Company, 
a new name to me in the publishing line- -and the younger 
but more ambitious George E. Woodberry, who some 
months ago published a collection of verses ("The North 
Shore Watch and Other Poems"), through Houghton, Miff- 



lin & Co. It would seem proper that the Emerson volume 
should be published by Houghton also- -since he has most 
of the Emerson books on his list, but perhaps this one 
was thought a little apocryphal, as in some respects it 
may be. Nevertheless, it bears inward evidence of its 
genuineness in many places, though occasionally the Em- 
ersonian dialect becomes mixed with Mr. Woodbury's own 
rather peculiar use of English. I do not find the ring of 
Emerson's words in this passage, for example: "What is 
it you are writing for, anyway? Because you have some- 
thing new to say? We don't want pulse with no legumes. 
To make anew and not from others is a grand thing. You 
can always tell when the thing is new; it speaks for itself 
and even among the unlettered it declares well enough 
and strong enough. From this is the projection of idioms. 
But add true , and make sure of this. Without such sanc- 
tion no one should write. Then what is it? Say it! Out 
with it!" No doubt there is a kernel of Emerson's thought 
in these jerky sentences, but that was not the way he ex- 
pressed himself to others than Mr. Woodbury. Yet other 
things in the same connection are manifestly Emerson's 
in expression also, such as "The most interesting writ- 
ing is that which does not quite satisfy the reader. A 
little guessing does him no harm, so I would assist him 
with no connections. If you can see how the harness fits, 
he can. Avoid adjectives; let the noun do the work. The 
adjective introduces sound, gives an expected turn, and 
so, often mars with an unintentional false note." "If you 
must be contradictory, let it be clean and sharp, as the 
two blades of scissors meet." 

But Mr. Woodbury has also preserved admirable ethi- 
cal counsels, such as may be found in Emerson's books, 
yet here given with a different turn or a peculiar illustra- 
tion which fastens them in the memory: 

There is a great secret in knowing what to keep out of 
the mind, as well as what to put in. Reading long at one 
time, no matter how it fascinates, destroys thought com- 
pletely . 

Imitation is suicide. How many do you know who are 
mainly made up of fragments of others? Yield not one 
inch to all the forces that conspire to make you an echo. 
That is the sin of dogmatism and creeds; avoid them, 
they build a fence about the intellect . 

Each man and woman is born with an aptitude to do 
something impossible to any other. Here on your shelf 
is Fenelon; who can make his pale Fenelonisms but he? 

Turn to the first thing that comes to hand, and do it. 
It is a great thing to get into the habit of doing all things 
thoroughly. By and by one discovers that he has done 
one thing better than his mates; and soon it is plain there 
is one thing which he alone can do. Make certain that it 
is yours, not something of another, but your own. Do 
you remember the story, among the legends of Arthur, 
of the witch who was brewing the liquid that should open 
the eyes of all people, --how some drops spattered into 
the eyes of the serving-boy, who incontinently fled, di- 
vining he was to be slain? Were all eyes anointed, how 
many would be kept on one's own pot? So live in a clean 
and clear loyalty to your own affairs . 

Opportunities approach only those who use them . 
Even thoughts cease by and by to visit the idle and the 
perverse . 



89 



Be choice in your friendships; you can have but few, 
and the number will dwindle as you grow older. Select 
minds too strong and large to pretend to knowledge they 
do not possess; they address you sincerely. 

It is not permitted to believe in opposition to the guide- 
post . We can only remember that it does not travel the 
road it points out. We can travel it, but that road, no 
other. 

I do not pretend to any commandment or large revela- 
tion. But if at any time I form a plan, propose a journey 
or a course of conduct, I find perhaps, a silent obstacle 
in my mind that I cannot account for. Very well, --I let 
it lie, think it may pass away; if it does not pass away, I 
yield to it, obey it. You ask me to describe it, I cannot 
describe it. It is not an oracle, not an angel, not a dream, 
not a law; it is too simple to be described; it is but a grain 
of mustard seed. But such as it is it is something which 
the contradiction of all mankind could not shake. 

Nothing could be more characteristic of Emerson than this 
last passage, which I suspect is drawn from his diary and 
not from Mr. Woodbury's. In the latter there is much 
good criticism quoted, but a little altered here and there, 
perhaps: 

Wordsworth is the greatest poet since Milton. 

There are no books for boys like the poems of Sir Wal- 
ter Scott. Every boy loves them if they are not put into 
his hands too late. "Marmion," "The Lay of the Last 
Minstrel," "The Lady of the Lake" surpass everything 
for boy-reading that we have. 

All previous and contemporary British historians are 
barefooted friars in comparison with Gibbon. He was an 
admirable student, a tremendous worker; he banished 
himself to a lonely chateau, just to work harder. But he 
thought uncleanly. He had, like Aristophanes, --whom I 
never could read on that account- -an imagination degraded 
and never assoiled, a low wit, like that which defaces out- 
buildings. He was a disordered and coarse spirit, a mind 
without a shrine; but a great example of diligence and anti- 
dote to laziness. 

Like Aristophanes, Shakespeare had the care of pre- 
senting his plays (on the stage) so they were kept practi- 
cal. This has had much to do with their surviving. When- 
ever either got into "the clouds" he got down out of them 
as fast as he could. But Shakespeare was a wonder; he 
struck twelve every time . We have no such creatures in 
America. 

Greek is the fountain of language. The Latin has a defi- 
nite shore-line, but the Greek is without bounds. 

Of genius, the first characteristic is veracity; the sec- 
ond, surprise; the third, spontaneity; the fourth, sensi- 
bility to the laws of the universe . Genius can see the 
event as well in front as behind, it tells where the city 
ought to stand, as well before as after it is built, and to 
build the city is the great accomplishment — not to pos- 
sess it. 

Napoleon was a wonderful man enough, --he always fell 
on his feet. He breathed through all the men about him. 
What was that he said about making his generals out of 
mud? His meanness, which could speak no chivalric word, 
spoke there, but it spoke fact. 

He despised Napoleon because he cheated at cards. "It 



is one of those acts which only men of a certain kind can 
commit; it cannot be extenuated." 

Mr. Woodbury has a good perception of Emerson's 
true greatness, and sometimes expresses it well. He 
knew him first as a college-boy knows a poet and sage, 
the occasion being Emerson's visit to Williamstown in 
1 865 as a lecturer to the students and professors of that 
college town. Opportunities for much intercourse with a 
sensitive young spirit thus occurred, and Emerson, who 
knew men at a glance, improved them, even to giving 
confidences that he did not usually bestow on older men. 
The acquaintance was kept up afterward and has been en- 
larged by much reading of the Concord literature. Of 
Thoreau and his relation to Emerson, first as a disciple, 
and then as a separate power, Mr. Woodbury has a clear 
notion; and concerning Thoreau, Emerson said to Mr. 
Woodbury many memorable things, for example: 

Henry was homely in appearance, a rugged stone hewn 
from the cliff. I believe it is accorded to all men to be 
moderately homely, but he surpassed our sex. He had a 
beautiful smile and an earnest look. A limpid man, a 
realist with caustic eyes, that looked through all words 
and shows and bearing, with terrible perception. He 
was a greater stoic than Zeno or Scaevola or Xenophanes, 
--greater, because nothing of impurity clung to him, --a 
man whose core and whose breath was conscience. His 
fault was that he brought nothing near to his heart. Ex- 
aggerated moods we all have to suppress, for some amia- 
bility, or at least reciprocity, is necessary to make so- 
ciety possible. But he thought and said that society is al- 
ways diseased and the best most so. His energy was ex- 
hausted in projecting a new path; he could not follow an 
old one , even when it was better for him . He believed 
things are lies, because words are. His ideas of living 
have been condemned, but let us remember he lived them 
out. He suffered with a stoicism beyond the race, and 
died in great pain; nobly refusing opiates, yielding him- 
self to death during sleepless nights and days. His style 
has been sometimes criticised as opaque; but that is a 
quality frequently found in the reader. It was a style that 
refused compromise, as did the man. It is better to trans- 
late him than Epictetus or Marcus Aurelius. He looked 
inward, inward, at the soul of things . Conscientious, 
earnest, he talked in plain words to the superstitious, and 
commanded his publishers not to change a line. He was 
penetrated with the elder classical influence; he breathed 
the antique; yet it was impossible for him to copy words, 
or anything. Thoreau has an always increasing number of 
readers, and the selectest class in all Christendom (of 
any American). The "Week on the Concord and Merrimac" 
is his noblest work. There was, during his literary life, 
between himself and Mr. Ticknor an inequality of tem- 
perament and taste, by which the publishing house of that 
gentleman was prevented from doing Thoreau justice. 
Consequently the Atlantic has published for Thoreau, but 
not his best work. Mr. Greeley was his most influential 
publishing friend. James Russell Lowell is a man of wit, 
a genial man, of good inspirations, who can write poems 
of wit, and something better. He has a good deal of self- 
consciousness, and never forgave Margaret Fuller and 
Thoreau for wounding it. 



90 



Mr. Woodbury makes Emerson give, as a frequent ci- 
tation by Thoreau, the lines about the gods which Cicero 
quotes from Ennius in his Divinatio; but he does not copy 
it correctly. What Ennius said was, 

Ego Deum genus esse semper dixi et dicam . . . . 

That is, 

I always said, and always shall, that there are 

gods in heaven, 
But what we do on earth, I think, care not the 

Sacred Seven; 
For then the good would good receive, the bad 

would fare but ill, 
While now no such thing do we see, --the gods 

are careless still. 

Or as Charming translates it in his life of Thoreau, --"I 
know all about your race of gods, but little they trouble 
their heads about our folks; if they cared a snap, they 
would see the good well off, and the bad punished, --which 
is just the opposite to the fact." What application Thoreau 
made of this ancient doctrine, does not appear; Channing 
makes him say, in this connection, --"I try to give you the 
ideas of these solemn Latin savages; who had neither hats 
to their heads, shirts to their bodies, nor shoes to their 
feet." Another Latin quotation of Mr. Woodbury's Emer- 
son, 

Make me thy wrack 

When I come back, 

But spare me while I go, 

is credited to "Martial's 25th epigram." But Martial wrote 
13 books of epigrams, averaging more than 75 in each book, 
and this is not the 25th in any of those books. There are 
several errors and misprints of this sort, which ought not 
to occur in a book reprinted. The difficulty of deciding 
whether these sayings ascribed to Emerson occur in his 
acknowledged writings, is greatly increased by the want 
of an index to Emerson, which his publishers ought to sup- 
ply without delay. Already passages have been printed as 
Thoreau's or Channing's, which Emerson wrote, and per- 
haps the reverse has happened, from the habit the Concord 
circle had of showing each other their journals, or quoting 
them in their daily walks. No authors need indexes more, 
for the richness of their minds and the abundance of their 
learning, together with a wilfulness in their method, so 
scatters their good sayings about that it is an afternoon's 
work to find one. Perhaps Dr. S. A. Jones of Ann Arbor 
(who has made an excellent bibliography of Thoreau, which 
Mr. Blake will publish in his next volume of selections 
from Thoreau's journals) will undertake to index his au- 
thor; and somebody else to index Emerson; as for Chan- 
ning, a full index would hardly be possible. Mr. Woodbury 
says that "Concord in a spiritual sense is in Channing's 
'Wanderer, '"--which is true; but even he seems not to have 
seen the earlier poem, "Near Home," which is much more 
a Concord guide-book than "The Wanderer" is, --since the 
latter contains Monadnoc, Plymouth, Clark's island and 
Cape Cod, as well as Concord; while "Near Home" is de- 
voted almost wholly to the little town and its scenery. 



Both these poems are now out of print, as Channing's 
life of Thoreau is. 

Mr. Salt, the English scholar and disciple of Tho- 
reau, who has written the latest biography of him, will 
print his book (Bentley is the London publisher) sometime 
in October. It will contain much new matter, contributed 
by several American friends of Thoreau, and will be the 
first of the biographies which has come from the hand of 
a disciple of the Concord stoic. Mr. Salt has renounced 
many of the outward advantages of life in England, in or- 
der to live more simply and ideally than is customary in 
that country, --having taken to heart the philosophy of 
Thoreau in that matter. He is also a learned man and a 
good writer; was for some years a master in the great 
Latin and Greek school at Eton, and had before him such 
prospects of preferment as most English scholars covet, 
when he turned aside into the cooler and more seques- 
tered path which he has of late years chosen, following 
another English scholar's advice to himself: 

No more, with reason and thyself at strife 

Give anxious cares and endless wishes room, 

But through the cool, sequestered vale of life 
Pursue the silent tenor of thy doom. 

But the literary man cannot be quite silent, even when he 
withdraws from the anxious cares of life, as we see by 
Thoreau's example; and apparently Mr. Salt has much to 
say to the world in which he no longer cares to shine and 
struggle. 



(58) 
HENRY ADAMS ON ADAMS AND JEFFERSON 

History is a strange and protean thing; it will assume 
at different times very diverse appearances, and it is 
hardly ever safe to say that we know exactly why things 
took place as they did in times past, even if we fancy we 
have a good general knowledge of what things did take 
place. A particular knowledge of past events, with cer- 
tainty, is almost impossible; so much is the record "a 
fable agreed on," as Napoleon called it. No man had a 
better right to say so, for his statements of past events 
were fictitious to the last degree, and represented what 
he wished men to think, and not what he knew to have 
happened. If any evidence of this side of Napoleon's 
character were still needed, it could be found in the 
later volumes of the "History of the United States," writ- 
ten by Henry Adams, who has therein undertaken to re- 
late circumstantially the affairs of the world during the 
first part of the present century. He limits his work 
thus far to the four administrations of Jefferson and 
Madison- -calling each presidential term an "adminis- 
tration," and giving two volumes to each four years. 
These volumes, from the 3d to the 6th, are before me-- 
two of them being quite new, and the others bearing date 
in 1890 — and they are the most exact and complete chroni- 
cle of our political history from 1805 to 1813 that has yet 
been published. They come with the imprint of Charles 
Scribner's Sons, but are in fact printed at John Wilson's 
university press in Cambridge near Boston, so that they 
may almost pass for a Boston product, though the author 



91 



has his home in Washington for convenience of access to 
libraries and archives other than those important ones in 
the hands of the Adams family at Quincy. The work, with 
all its research and its independence of criticism, is in- 
tellectually a Boston product also- -if the Adamses may be 
called Bostonian, as properly they are. For it is with the 
prepossessions and qualifications of the Adams family that 
this history is written, and the muse of history, though al- 
lowed a wide range in other matters, is compelled to look 
through the Adams spectacles, and take up the Adams quar- 
rels in a manner which justifies the strongest theories of 
hereditary transmission. Not that history is much per- 
verted by this, for the wrath and partiality of an Adams 
are not inconsistent with much candor of statement, though 
they lead to many injurious and cynical reflections. Party 
prejudice never has weighed much with them, and, except 
for a general attitude of distrust and contempt toward all 
mankind outside of their own circle, there is much to be 
praised in the historical methods of this inexhaustible 
family. They may accuse Peter of one set of faults; but 
this does not help them from seeing that Paul has another 
set of faults; and they are as ready to tax all the apostles 
with folly, as heart could wish. At the same time, they 
see merits clearly also, and no weak fondness for con- 
sistency prevents them from saying what comes into their 
minds about any and all men, whether saints or sinners. 
These remarks are not so general as they may seem; 
for though they apply to John Adams and John Quincy Adams, 
and others of the family, they are founded mainly upon a 
reading of this new book, wherein famous men, and some 
whose fame has already evaporated, are brought before 
the judgment seat, and sent down among the sheep or the 
goats, after a short examination and with words of rapid, 
but often not unjust discrimination, like those of the Cre- 
tan Rhadamanthus in his uncharitable realm, mentioned by 
Virgil. Like him, too, Mr. Adams "punishes and then 
hears excuses, and makes his victims confess": 

Castigatque auditque dolos , subigitque fateri ; 

for he puts his characters into the witness-box, and forces 
them to acknowledge their own handwriting, --making use 
for this purpose of stores of correspondence and private 
memoirs which the modern business of government re- 
quires and preserves. Mr. Adams has not only used the 
archives of this continent, but he has gone to the endless 
accumulations of England, France and Spain; and has 
traced out the windings of Napoleon's policy and the bru- 
talities and inconsistencies of English statesmanship, in 
order to exhibit fully the situation in which Jefferson and 
Madison found themselves when brought face to face with 
the wars and the intrigues of the Napoleonic period. No 
American writer has done this so fully, or so entertain- 
ingly; and the industry which this bespeaks is quite as 
much to be commended as the liveliness with which Mr. 
Adams adapts all this ancient political writing, often in- 
tricate and involved, often dull, and sometimes tediously 
trivial, to his biographical and historical purpose. Bi- 
ography, rather than history, is what he aims at, and the 
interest that he awakens is largely personal. We watch 
the maneuvers of Jefferson, the diplomacy of Madison, 
the irresponsible eloquence of Randolph, the strategy of 
Napoleon, the sarcasm of Canning, the bigotry of Picker- 



ing and the conspiring federalists, the audacity of Burr, 
the generous impetuosity of Clay, the acuteness of Gen. 
Armstrong, the perpetual good sense of Gallatin, --with 
as much attention as we should observe the movements 
of a campaign or the development of a novelist's plot. In 
fact, the drama of American political history, now that 
we know the assured result, is as exciting to our country- 
men as most novels or plays can be the greatness of the 
country, and its swift assumption of important parts mak- 
ing up for much that would otherwise appear crude, fan- 
tastic or tedious, 

Jefferson evidently puzzles and baffles Mr. Adams, 
as he did his grandfather and great-grandfather, and, as 
Rob Roy puzzled Andrew Fairservice. "There are many 
things," said old Andrew, "ower bad for blessing and 
ower gude for banning, like Rob Roy "--and the tall, red- 
haired and red-waistcoated Virginian was quite as much 
given to appear in several characters as was the athletic, 
long-armed Highland chieftain . In both was seen what 
Scott mentions of his hero, 'the air of easy self-posses- 
sion and superiority, with which he seemed to predomi- 
nate over the company into which he was thrown"; and it 
is this easy superiority which makes Jefferson so inter- 
esting as a person, no matter what his special situation 
might be. To such superior persons, whether "sitting 
on one hip" or otherwise, --whether successful or un- 
successful in any particular measure- -the world gladly 
or unwillingly pays attention; but they are not always to 
be measured by the line and the rule of the critic. When 
these are applied here and there, the man is apt to es- 
cape from them with only a partial measurement of his 
character and purposes. Thus Mr. Adams shows that 
the embargo of 1808 was Jefferson's experiment; he ad- 
mits that it was an "experiment in politics well worth 
making"- -how could it be otherwise since John Quincy 
Adams voted for it?--but he says the embargo ruined 
the old society of Virginia planters and gentlemen; "and 
its last representative, heir to all its honors and digni- 
ties, President Jefferson himself, woke from his long 
dream of power, only to find his own fortunes buried in 
the ruin he had made." If this were really so, he de- 
served some credit for magnanimity; and indeed, not- 
withstanding some touches of feminine spite, now and 
then, Jefferson appears in this story as truly and rarely 
magnanimous. Mr. Adams says of him: "Jefferson was 
not apt to be violent, nor was he despotic in temper; but 
he was, within certain limits, very tenacious of his pur- 
pose, and he had, to a certain degree, the habits of a 
paternal despot." His way of treating Monroe and his 
English treaty which violated Jefferson's positive in- 
structions, was evidence at once of his tenacity, his 
boldness and his magnanimity. He put the treaty in his 
pocket, refused to consult the Senate about it, and yet 
wrote most kindly to Monroe, whose injudicious friends 
were setting him up as a rival to Madison, and thus to 
Jefferson himself. It is easy now to be wise after the 
fact, and to point out serious errors in Jefferson's man- 
agement of foreign and domestic affairs; but it must nev- 
er be forgotten how difficult the situation was, and how 
fast time, in our struggle against the arrogance of Eng- 
land and the unprincipled ambition of Napoleon, was 
working in our favor. Jefferson's whole policy was to 
avoid war and gain time; and the result, in spite of the 



92 



incapable administration that succeeded his own, and the 
factious opposition of the federalists (whom Mr. Adams 
dislikes more than he does Madison), was a justification 
of his policy. 

Timothy Pickering is, as much as any one, the "heavy 
villain" of Mr. Adams's dramatic version of American 
politics. He exposes mercilessly the honest colonel's 
blunders, his conspirings, his ambitions, --and cites the 
quaint warning of John Adams against the Massachusetts 
senator. "Under the simple appearance of a bald head and 
straight hair," wrote the ex-president, "and under profes- 
sions of profound republicanism, he conceals an ardent 
ambition, envious of every superior, and impatient of ob- 
scurity." Under his direction in 1808, not only was John 
Quincy Adams driven from the Senate because he support- 
ed Jefferson and voted for the embargo, but, according 
to our author, "a popular delusion approaching frenzy, a 
temporary insanity, like the witchcraft and Quaker mania, 
took possession of the mind of Massachusetts and broke 
into acute expression. Not for a full century had the old 
Puritan prejudice shown itself in a form so unreasoning 
and unreasonable. The rest of America, perplexed at 
paroxysms so eccentric, wondered whether the spirit of 
Massachusetts liberty could ever have been sane. For the 
moment, Timothy Pickering was its genius." This is em- 
phatic, and not wholly unjust in its rhetoric. Of Randolph, 
for whom Mr. Adams has a lurking fondness, he speaks 
with equal decision when needful. Thus of his position in 
1809--that of general scold--Mr. Adams says: "Discord 
had become John Randolph's single object in public life. 
The federalists at least had a purpose in their seditious- 
ness, and were honest in preferring the British govern- 
ment to their own; the republicans of all shades, however 
weak in will or poor in motive, were earnest in their love 
of country; but Randolph was neither honest nor earnest, 
neither American nor English, nor truly Virginian." 

These passages will show how well Mr. Adams can 
write, and with what force he seizes on or invents salient 
points in characters of men or transactions of mankind. 
Perhaps he is too fond of making points --too fond of setting 
up lightning-rods to carry away harmless the volleys of 
thunderous woe which are all ready to fall, and do fall on 
one person or one nation after another, in the course of 
his narrative; but which somehow do not annihilate any- 
body- -not even Pickering. He sees men clearly if not al- 
ways correctly, and has an excellent critical faculty in 
judging what they speak and write. Thus he cites as typi- 
cal of American eloquence for the next 50 years a few sen- 
tences from Henry Clay's speech in favor of war with Eng- 
land in 1810: "The withered arm and wrinkled brow of the 
illustrious founders of our freedom are melancholy indica- 
tions that they will shortly be removed from us. Sir, if 
we could be forgetful of ourselves, I trust we shall spare 
you (George Clinton, the vice-president) the disgrace of 
signing, with those hands so instrumental in the Revolu- 
tion, a bill abandoning some of the most precious rights 
which it then secured." His use of European documents 
and memoirs is as illustrative and more pungent than 
Bancroft's, and while he lacks a sound general judgment 
concerning men and things, and therefore is inconsistent 
and fragmentary in his view of the whole situation, few 
writers excel him in picturing forcibly the immediate af- 
fair in hand. 



(59) 
DOROTHEA DDC, PHILANTHROPIST 

The first and strongest feeling experienced by one who 
reads the "Life of Dorothea Lynde Dix," written by Fran- 
cis Tiffany, and published by Houghton & Mifflin, is not 
of admiration for the successful philanthropist, but pity 
for the unloved and barren childhood of a super-sensitive, 
delicately strung nature, overburdened from her earliest 
years with the New England conscience, which led her to 
supplement the exactions of her kindred with self-imposed 
tasks. Her father appears to have been a shiftless ne'er- 
do-well, always running after some new ism, and drag- 
ging his unfortunate family after him; her mother a cold, 
unsympathetic woman. A religious craze which impelled 
the father to write tracts which Dorothea was obliged to 
sew and paste together, stimulated her while yet a child 
to flight, and she ran away to her grandmother, who lived 
in Boston in some state in one of the old-fashioned man- 
sions then more numerous than now. Here again Doro- 
thea was unfortunate. Her grandmother is pictured as 
dignified and precise in her bearing, and austere in her 
principles, prominent among which appeared the convic- 
tion that her grandchild was to daily feel the folly of liv- 
ing at ease, and the vital necessity of gaining a livelihood 
both for herself and her family. 

Spurred on by necessity, Dorothea was teaching school 
at 14, rising with the sun and going to bed at midnight in 
the effort to educate herself. Under this regimen she 
broke down, remaining for many years an invalid, though 
not an idle one. Her labors continued, and she also wrote 
for children hymns and stories of the severely religious 
order, pious meditations, and astonishing as it appears, 
gift-books. Miss Dix as a teacher must have been of the 
type described as "painful." She held herself morally re- 
sponsible for the religious welfare of all her pupils, and 
in her anxieties over them turned her school- room of a 
Saturday evening into a sort of Puritan confessional, in 
which she probed the consciences of her pupils. Natu- 
rally she was adored or hated by them according to their 
dispositions. 

At the age of 35 , relieved from the care of her young- 
er brothers and made independent of work by the bequest 
of her grandmother, Miss Dix for a few years allowed 
herself rest. She was at last accidentally led into what 
was to prove the absorbing interest of her life, the treat- 
ment of the insane. What she saw at the jail at East Cam- 
bridge of the abuse of the insane, who were in 1841 herd- 
ed with the common criminals and maltreated, then and 
for many a long year after, in the most brutal and in- 
credible manner, determined Miss Dix to succor them, 
if human agency could do it. She called to her help 
Charles Sumner and Dr. Howe, who paved the way for 
the memorial she shortly placed before the Massachu- 
setts Legislature, by newspaper articles and corrobo- 
rating testimony. Others, such as Horace Mann, Dr. 
John G. Palfrey and Dr. Luther Bell, aided her in every 
possible way, and to such good effect that a bill for im- 
mediate relief was passed with no demur. Page after 
page of the biography is filled with harrowing details of 
individual cases brought up as convincing proof of the 
necessity of reform by Miss Dix, as she urged in al- 
most every state in the Union immediate reform for the 



wretched insane, left in every community to private mal- 
treatment at the hands of relations, or worse yet, farmed 
out to the lowest bidder. What Miss Dix must have suf- 
fered as she investigated these unspeakable horrors it is 
pitiful to contemplate . Here the Spartan training of her 
childhood stood her in good stead, and as one Legislature 
after another passed the bills that built asylums, she took 
courage. 

The great effort of her life, however, was what was 
called the "5,000,000 acre bill," or a request that Con- 
gress should grant so many acres, the income from which 
should be expended on "the indigent insane in the United 
States." Agitation in favor of this bill (afterward much en- 
larged) began as early as 1848, and for 10 years longer 
Miss Dix spent herself in what proved useless labor, for 
Franklin Pierce, in spite of the warmest protestations and 
both personal and official promises of assistance, vetoed 
it at last. This crushing blow, though it discouraged and 
silenced her for a time, did not end her endeavors. She 
did indeed take what she herself called "a rest" of six 
years, spending the time in Europe and visiting one asy- 
lum after another, memorializing kings and Parliaments 
as to the abuses she discovered, comparing systems, 
studying each new phase, whether of disease or disci- 
pline, and finding curiously enough in Turkey and Russia 
the only faultless asylums. 

The indomitable woman lived to be 85 years old, doing 
with all her might whatever her hands found to do, whether 
her special work or nursing during the war, where she 
showed herself a second Florence Nightingale. With 
beautiful fitness she died an honored guest in the first 
asylum of her rearing, that in Trenton, N.J. Miss Dix 
was one of those "special instruments" destined for a 
particular purpose; like John Howard and Elizabeth Fry, 
she saw but one thing, her own mission; yet during her 
exceptional service in the hospitals she did work as great 
though of less duration. It is recorded of her that in spite 
of a somewhat aggressive manner, she was essentially 
modest in her estimate of herself, and if she magnified 
her office she was silent as to her personal merits . The 
quality of her friends speaks volumes as to her personali- 
ty. Mr. Tiffany has written a sympathetic and interesting 
memorial and has shown excellent taste in all matters . 



degree, the doctrines he enunciates. It leads to an en- 
tangling association of the pure ideals of a higher life 
which these friends of Whitman hold in common with him- 
self, with the lower-lying and illogical theories of an- 
other and wholly separate form of belief. Ingersoll pro- 
claims pure agnosticism, and proclaims it offensively 
and in a ribald spirit. Whitman in noble contrast gives 
forth an undogmatic. but a tolerant and an all-embracing 
spiritual faith, and utters it in veneration and loving wor- 
ship. To this side of his character those who applaud him 
cleave. It is the saving element which gives him influ- 
ence and power in this day of transitions. Ingersoll, with 
his tolerant and jesting opposition, only succeeds in at- 
tracting the dissatisfied, the uncontented, and the un- 
classifiable. He has no genuine following. A good man, 
morally, a generous, friendly nature, but a man whose 
personality, whose engaging manners and magnetic voice 
form his claims to regard. In view of all this, it seems 
now most important when Ingersoll and Whitman are like- 
ly to be allied in the public mind, to keep clear the dis- 
tinctions between them; to save Walt Whitman from his 
generous friend. 

After the address, it is recorded in the Philadelphia 
Press, Whitman and Ingersoll- -with others, sat in the 
dining-room of the Lafayette hotel and talked of religion 
and death. The old poet is feeble and cannot talk as he 
used, moreover, he would never have had much chance 
in a talking match with the glib Ingersoll, whose shallow 
mind never hesitates in the presence of its superiors and 
would not hesitate to blurt out its undisguised prejudice, 
while serene and wise souls perforce kept silence. So 
that the conversation reported was mainly on Ingersoll 's 
side, --the same sort of stuff his lectures are made of, 
interrupted by an occasional word like this from Mr. 
Whitman, "Sometimes it is better to soar." But one 
thing was worth while, it came as follows: Whitman's 
right hand fluttered feebly into his pocket and he drew 
forth a crumpled, well-worn piece of paper. "This 
poem is a translation of mine from the French of Henri 
Murger; I'll read it to you," he said, 

THE MIDNIGHT VISITOR 



(60) 
WALT WHITMAN AND INGERSOLL 

The appearance of Col. Ingersoll as the orator at the 
testimonial to Walt Whitman in Philadelphia, the other 
day, does not wholly meet with approval. A writer in the 
American of that city says "the alliance is a menace to 
Whitman himself," and with much truth he goes on to say 
that Whitman's philosophy and religion "are not fixed, but 
elude the analyst, and are plain only to those who profess 
the faith and see the inner light," and thus 'to the thought- 
less can be interpreted to indorse Col. Ingersoll 's views," 
in which "the ideal is omitted, and in omitting the ideal 
Ingersoll omits the central sun while perhaps giving a very 
perfect illustration of the whole earth itself." And the 
writer proceeds: 

And the alliance is also a menace to those who hold the 
good gray poet in reverence and accept, in greater or less 



"Whose steps are those? Who comes so late? ' 
"Let me come in, the door unlock." 

"Tis midnight now; my lonely gate 
I open to no stranger's knock. 

"Who art thou? Speak !"-- "Men call me Fame, 

To immortality I lead." 
"Pass, idle phantom of a name." 

"Listen again, and now take heed. 

"I was false. My names are Song, Love, Art. 

My poet, now unbar the door." 
"Art's dead, Song cannot touch my heart. 

My once Love's name I chant no more." 

"Open then now, for see, I stand, 

Riches my name, with endless gold, 

Gold, and your wish in either hand." 

"Too late- -my Youth you still withhold." 



94 



"Then, if it must be, since the door 

Stands shut, my last true name to know, 

Men call me Death. Deny no more; 
I bring the cure of every woe." 

The door flies wide. "Ah, guest so wan, 
Forgive the poor place where I dwell; 

An ice-cold hearth, a heart-sick man, 
Stand here to welcome thee full well!" 



(61) 
LOWELL AND EMILY DICKINSON COMPARED 

There are regulars, volunteers and guerillas in the war- 
fare of poetry against commonplace--as there are in the 
real military career; and in America the volunteers and 
the guerilla poets far outnumber the regular army of en- 
listed bards, like Longfellow, Lowell, Whittier, Holmes 
and Stedman. Lowell enlisted early and made a few cam- 
paigns in his effervescent youth, of which he is not quite so 
proud now as he might be; then he took to the woods, and in 
his "Biglow Papers" and "Fable for Critics" showed what a 
sharpshooter of the Muses he was . Long ago he returned 
to the regular army, and has been practising with all the 
arms of invention and precision which modern poets have 
introduced. In these he has great skill and often he does 
much execution; but he seldom comes up to the hits he 
made with his squirrel gun and horse-pistol in his early 
raids and ambushes. Whittier was a volunteer poet, but 
soon got promotion among the regulars. Emily Dickinson 
reverts to the medieval period, when the bow and arrow 
were weapons still held in honor, and though she some- 
times shot very wide, from her concealed corner, and al- 
ways short flights, yet her arrows do often hit the mark 
in a very peculiar and graceful manner. Guerilla and 
gypsy in her literary habit, she learned as the gypsies 
and the Indians do, the secrets of external nature in a very 
thorough manner; so that some of her descriptions are 
quite unequaled in their suggestiveness, and often very 
startling. A critic in the Transcript well says and quotes 
as follows about her little poems of this class: 

Her verse has frequent, though as it seems, involuntary 
felicities of phrase, and an almost elfin, unhuman intimacy 
with Nature, which she seems less to study than to gossip 
about, with the privilege of close and long familiarity of 
acquaintance. Her poems on Nature are immensely the 
best in the book; full of a strange magic of meaning so 
ethereal that one must apprehend rather than comprehend 
it. It is a quality to be illustrated merely, not explained; 
it is at its hight in the two poems we quote: 

The sky is low, the clouds are mean, 

A traveling flake of snow 
Across a barn or through a rut 

Debates if it will go. 

A narrow wind complains all day 

How some one treated him; 
Nature, like us, is sometimes caught 

Without her diadem . 



There's a certain slant of light 

On winter afternoons 
That oppresses, like the weight 

Of cathedral tunes . 

Heavenly hurt it gives us, 

We can find no scar, 
But internal difference 

Where the meanings are. 

None may teach it anything, 

'Tis the seal, despair, -- 
An imperial affliction 

Sent us of the air . 

When it comes, the landscape listens, 

Shadows hold their breath; 
When it goes, 'tis like the distance 

On the face of Death. 

In these two arrow flights there is an intimate feeling 
of what nature says to the imaginative soul; but for close- 
ness and homely fidelity to the fact, the first and shorter 
of the two is much superior, while the second goes deep- 
er into the heart of the matter. It is a pity that so fine 
a perception could not have been accompanied by a little 
more patience of culture and Jess wilfulness of expres- 
sion; for the form she uses too often detracts from the 
effect of the glancing thought. Her shafts are too often 
neither well tipt nor well-feathered, --they waver and 
fly wild, --but sometimes, when they do not hit the mark, 
they rise into the upper air and burst into flame, like the 
arrow of Virgil's young man at the shooting-match in the 
Eneid. Quite as often, to be sure, they fall in the grass 
and are lost. Archery practice she greatly needed but 
could not endure; she drew the bow at a venture, though 
in all seriousness; and when she struck through the joints 
of the harness it was often accident rather than skill. 
But, to drop the metaphor, there was seriousness enough 
in the feeling behind all this capricious verse-making. 
Her editor compares her poems to those of William Blake; 
and they were indeed equally earnest, though far less me- 
lodious and of a narrower and more feminine compass. 
They have been too liberally printed; for to omit would 
highten the value of the whole collection. 

Emily Dickinson's poems are selling briskly; and this 
fugitive and cloistered writer, who in her life-time never 
published anything if she could help it, has almost become 
popular since her death, and by the timeliness of her edi- 
tors. They perhaps conjectured that in this age of abound- 
ing and exuberant poetic fertility, when everybody writes 
a little verse, and many write acres of it there would be 
something attractive in this spare and fasting diet of the 
muse, which was served up in that chamber or garden at 
Amherst. It has proved so, and indeed the guerilla cam- 
paigns of song are always more enticing to the imagination 
than the slow movement of the regular army, in epics, in 
dramas, in "Excursions," and in long-drawn metaphysi- 
cal soliloquies, dear to Browning, to Wordsworth or to 
Shelley. The great poets- -Homer, Dante, Shakespeare, 
Goethe- -along with their greater marches have forays 
and gypsy adventures here and there, to show that they 
also were once guerilleros of the liveliest kind; and sec- 



95 



ond or third rate poets like the Greek dramatists, Pindar, 
Horace and Hafiz, are equally fond of an escapade now and 
then. Lowell has this in common with better poets, --that 
he lets himself go now and then, and produces finer verses 
at random than all his wit and learning and critical sharp- 
ness can toilfully arrange. To be sure, he drolls it too 
much at such times, and would rather lose his muse than 
his jest; but there are careless, unpremeditated strains, 
in which he excels quite as much as in his elaborate and 
over-ornamented work. The ninth and tenth volumes of 
his "Writings" (the third and fourth of his "Poems") are 
full of examples of both kinds, --the first of the two being 
given over largely to rather a tiresome species of fun in 
verse, while the second volume is more meditative and 
retrospective, and with a higher and nobler vein of thought, 
akin to what his earlier verses had or gave promise of. 
There is fun, too, in these later verses, and sometimes 
very good fun, --but apt to incline toward gloomy satire 
upon others, or the poet himself. Few of our regular 
poets have written in so many moods as Lowell, --out of 
whose verses three distinct species of poet might be fitted 
out with enough to give each a good reputation. Yet there 
is a wearisome, puzzling effect in much that he has writ- 
ten, as there is in Browning, but of a less provoking and 
also of a less profound character. To omit judiciously is 
what most poets teach us, and Lowell is no exception. Yet 
is it good to find books from which so much can be left out 
without destroying their value. . . . 



(62) 
JAMES REDPATH- — A TRIBUTE 

James Redpath, abolitionist, newspaper man and au- 
thor, died at New York yesterday in consequence of being 
run down by a car of the Fourth-avenue line a few days 
ago. Mr. Redpath had suffered for some years from par- 
tial paralysis, and his system was in a condition which 
made him a ready victim to the shock, although no bones 
were broken. He was born at Berwick-on- Tweed, in the 
edge of Scotland, August 24, 1833, emigrated with his 
parents to Michigan, at 18 went to New York, and in a 
year from that time had become one of the editorial staff 
of the Tribune and a friend of Mr. Greeley. Shortly after 
he visited the South, walking throughout the seaboard slave 
states, stopping with slaveholders in their houses or with 
slaves in their cabins, making himself intimately acquaint- 
ed with 'the peculiar institution," and not seldom getting 
into trouble by his frank expression of his convictions on 
the subject. He became a fiery abolitionist, and going to 
Kansas, where he acted as a newspaper correspondent, 
he took the part of John Brown in the free- state campaign, 
and became one of the best hated of "black republicans " 
and "nigger- lovers "--two of the pet epithets of the slave 
power at the time, which were undoubtedly in Mr. Red- 
path's case founded on fact. The best part of his life was 
devoted to the negro, and no more faithful friend has that 
race had. He visited Hayti in 1859 and was appointed by 
President Geffrard commissioner of emigration in the 
United States; returning he founded in Boston and New 
York the Haytian bureau of emigration, through whose in- 
strumentality some thousands of negroes became citizens 
of the black republic; and in connection with this bureau 



he ran a paper, "Pine and Palm," devoted to the interests 
of the negro. To him as Haytian joint commissioner to 
the United States was largely due the recognition of Hay- 
tian independence. During the war Mr. Redpath was at 
the front with the armies now of Thomas and now of Sher- 
man, writing newspaper letters, and doing service to the 
sick and wounded soldiers; and when the war ended he was 
with Gen. Quincy A. Gillmore at Charleston. He was ap- 
pointed state superintendent of education, ably organized 
the school system of South Carolina and founded the col- 
ored orphan asylum at Charleston. In 1868 he began his 
management of a lecture bureau in Boston and continued 
in that business a good many years. But after slavery 
was over he was uneasy for want of a "cause," and so 10 
years ago he adopted that of Ireland, beginning it as he 
had his abolitionism, with a visit to the scene of trouble, 
and writing letters thence to the New York Tribune. Re- 
turning, he lectured all over this country and Canada con- 
cerning the Irish situation, and started Redpath's Weekly 
to advocate home rule. For a short time he was an editor 
of the North American Review. Besides his multitude of 
writings for newspapers and other periodicals, Mr. Red- 
path had written many books, including a "Handbook to 
Kansas," "The Roving Editor," "Echoes of Harper's 
Ferry," "Southern Notes," "Guide to Hayti" and "Life 
of John Brown," all of which were published in the two 
years 1859-60, a biography of John Brown published in 
London in 1862, lives of Wendell Phillips and Benjamin 
F. Butler and others. Mr. Redpath was an earnest, 
ardent, uncompromising man, a friend of John Brown, 
Frederick Douglass, Charles Sumner, Gen. Butler and 
Wendell Phillips, and a sturdy partisan in behalf of his 
friends, though none at all as to political parties. He 
has served his day according to his light, and accom- 
plished much therein. 



(63) 
REFLECTIONS ON THE CONCORD SCHOOL 
OF PHILOSOPHY AND LITERATURE 

It is circulating round the country on the ebb and flow 
of the newspapers, that the Concord School of Philosophy 
is to hold a session the coming summer, which is not the 
fact. How the story originated who can say? Emerson, 
speaking of the gregarious habits of all creatures except 
the poet, says: 

Wedge-like cleave the air the birds, 
To northern lakes fly wind-borne ducks; 

and this is true not only of wild geese and teal, but par- 
ticularly of the newspaper duck, or canard. Somebody, 
through deafness or indistinct reading, or hope, or mal- 
ice, or some other defect, starts the thin edge of the 
wedge, and soon the whole flock of canards are on their 
way rejoicing. There has never been any purpose on the 
part of the faculty of the Concord School to hold a session 
this year; on the contrary, whenever questioned, they 
have said no. 

How could the scattered flock be brought together, 
even if it were otherwise feasible to reopen the school? 
Dr. Harris is in Washington, absorbed in his work as 



96 



commissioner of education; Mr. Emery is at Quincy, 111., 
engaged in business; Mrs. Cheney is in Rome or Florence; 
Prof. Davidson is occupied with his own school among the 
Adirondacks--and so on with the rest. Of the originators 
of the school, Alcott and Emerson and Prof. Pierce are 
dead; Miss Peabody is a confirmed invalid, and several 
others have taken the long vacation which advancing years 
impose on the most active philosophers. Wisdom, like the 
goddess Aurora, is young and immortal, but the philoso- 
pher, like Tithonus, is sadly mortal in the article of grow- 
ing old, and must some day or other cry, like Tennyson's 
Tithonus: 

Release me and restore me to the ground! 
Thou wilt renew thy beauty morn by morn, 
Thou seest all things, thou wilt see my grave. 

To answer some questions which continually renew 
themselves, it may here be said that the Concord School 
of Philosophy, though imagined by Emerson as early as 
1840, and planned by Alcott on his return from England in 
1842, did not take material form until the summer of 1870, 
when it opened in the study of Mr. Alcott *s Orchard House, 
for a session of six weeks. This house was found to be too 
small for the students and visitors who thronged to the 
sessions and, by the gift of that liberal-minded lady, Mrs. 
Elizabeth Thompson of New York, who had been present at 
the first year's conversations, the little Hillside Chapel 
was built, in which most of the sessions were held. A 
volume concerning the lectures and conversations of 1882 
was published by that illustrious journalist, Mr. R. L. 
Bridgman, in 1883, and the School itself published a vol- 
ume on Emerson in 1884, and another on Goethe in 1885-- 
both of them now for sale by Houghton, Mifflin & Co. A 
third volume on Dante was contemplated by never issued. 

It would require a page to enumerate the volumes that 
have had their birth in the Concord School, which held its 
final session in honor of Mr. Alcott the summer after his 
death in 1 888 . The success of the school, upon a basis 
then new, occasioned the opening of many other summer 
schools of a character more or less similar, and this 
process is still going on. The first endowed school of 
philosophy in America is that lately founded by Mr. H. 
W. Sage at Ithaca, N.Y., in Cornell University, and the 
dean of that school, Prof. Schurman, was one of the first 
frequenters of the Concord School. Endowment is impor- 
tant for the permanence of such an enterprise, even if the 
gift is small; for Mrs. Thompson's $1000 was the nest egg 
of the modest income which paid the expenses at Concord . 
Other universities will follow the example of Cornell, no 
doubt, in this as in other matters; but the puzzle will be 
to combine freedom of thought and generous initiative, 
which were the distinctive marks at Concord, with the 
funded property, the government and the routine of a col- 
lege. 

Coleridge, who came as near being a philosopher as 
most Englishmen can, once defined the gentleman as "a 
person indifferent to money matters"; and one of the Con- 
cord lecturers specialized this definition by saying: "A 
gentleman has something to give away, not something to 
sell." These sayings are still true of the philosopher, 
whatever may have been changed by evolution in the char- 
acter of the traditional gentleman. To form and set free 



his meditations for money is the bane of the philosopher 
to this day, as it was in the days of Greek sophists. Soc- 
rates escaped it by frugality and manual labor; the purple 
Plato by wealth and social consideration; Aristotle at first, 
in the same way, and afterwards by the friendship of the 
great Alexander. Wisdom, like Sydney Smith's muse of 
the Edinburgh Review, is best cultivated on a little oat- 
meal; and is not set up for sale or hire, like the nags in 
a livery stable. 

It is not likely that the Concord School will ever again 
"carry on business at the old stand," as the disconsolate 
widow remarked on the tombstone of her husband, the 
grocer, in Pere la Chaise. The past may be remembered, 
but cannot be recalled: the present has new duties of its 
own, and the future must take care of itself, as it is fully 
able to do. "Why should we do anything for posterity, Mr. 
Speaker?" cried Sir Boyle Roche; "what has posterity ever 
done for us?" Every tub, even that of Diogenes, must 
stand on its own bottom. 

Concord, May 6. F. B. Sanborn. 



(64) 
RANDOM NOTES ON THOREAU 

Thoreau, of course, is to be remembered among the 
poets of nature- -'the poet naturalist," his friend Chan- 
ning calls him in that quaint biography of him which was 
published by Roberts Bros, in 1873, and of which a por- 
tion had been printed in the Boston Commonwealth in 1 864 . 
The volume is now quite out of print and very difficult to 
procure, like most of Mr. Channing's eight or 10 volumes. 
It has been used freely by Thoreau 's other biographers 
and lately by Mr. Salt, his English disciple, whose ex- 
cellent book is, I believe, to be reprinted in Cleveland. 

The best portrait of Thoreau proves to be not the weak 
crayon head made by Rowse in 1854, and engraved soon 
after Thoreau 's death, nor the full bearded face engraved 
from an ambrotype taken in New Bedford in 1861; but an 
ambrotype, or something of the kind, taken for Mr. Blake 
of Worcester about 1856, and never yet satisfactorily en- 
graved. It represents Thoreau in full health and strength, 
just as he might be seen emerging from the pine forest of 
Maine, or a flowering swamp in Concord- -his hair copi- 
ous and tossed about, his face full and a little rustic, with 
all its indications of deep thought, and with a thin fringe 
of beard on his throat, which he wore not for ornament, 
but to protect the delicate bronchial passages, through 
which death reached him with a premature arrow six 
years later. 

Mr. Harrison Blake of Worcester, who edits Thoreau's 
journal, tells me that he has material enough for three 
more volumes- -"Autumn," which may appear next year, 
"Late Spring" and "Late Summer." A thicker volume of 
the letters and poems will some day appear, and that will 
close, apparently, the long list of books which have been 
made up from Thoreau's papers since his death in May, 
1862. He had published himself but two volumes — the 
rest are all posthumous, and are read with continually 
increasing zest and affection by those who read such 
books at all. "Walden" still holds its ground as his most 
popular volume; such it was from its first publication in 
1854, and so it is likely to remain. The "Week on the 



97 



Concord and Merrimac," his first and most literary book, 
is more admired by those who value the youthful poet and 
scholar more than the mature and radical thinker and hu- 
morist. 

Dr. Emerson, in a recent lecture which he has read 
extensively in New England, New York and the West, adds 
something to the world's knowledge of Thoreau, in regard 
to his school-teaching and pencil-making. Along with his 
brother John, Henry Thoreau taught one of the best schools 
of the time (about 1839-40) and the first in this region to 
give two half-holidays in a week, and to take its pupils on 
walks about the country. In this school Henry taught Latin, 
Greek and surveying; while John, who had not graduated, 
taught the English branches. The pencil-making, in which 
the whole Thoreau family engaged, passed, with time, into 
a kindred business, --the preparation of black lead (plum- 
bago) for electrotyping, in which, as well as in making lead 
pencils, the Thoreaus excelled. This business continued 
until after the death of the father and his two sons, being 
carried on for some years by Miss Sophia Thoreau. Of 
this business, which was a family secret, Dr. Emerson 
has given the first public description. 

This American branch of the Thoreaus of St. Heller's, 
on the isle of Jersey, is now extinct so far as the name is 
concerned, there being only descendants of other names 
in the female line. In Jersey itself, and other parts of 
England, there must be persons of the name, but all cor- 
respondence between the English and the American Tho- 
reaus ceased some 50 years ago, I believe . How slight is 
the thread of connection between these emigrant families 
and their old home is shown by the time and trouble that 
have been expended on the English ancestry of so famous 
a person as Gen. Washington, who did not himself know 
from what part of England his ancestors came to Virginia, 
though he had their coat-of-arms, and was born less than 
80 years after his first ancestor landed in the Old Domin- 
ion. A few years after John Washington arrived, there 
came, according to tradition, one or two daughters of 
Richard Cromwell to Virginia, and there are now Ameri- 
cans claiming descent from Oliver, through this female 
line. 



So far each and every one who has meddled in the im- 
broglio has taken Carlyle's remorseful estimate, and 
because he cried Peccavi and beat upon his breast have 
joined in and belabored him without mercy. And yet there 
are really two sides to the question. If Thomas was "gey 
ill to live with, " Jane was not an angel; if he complained of 
his dyspepsia, she bemoaned her neuralgia; when he cried 
out at the hideous barkings and crowings of the neighbor- 
hood that disturbed his nights, she offset it by unceasing 
details of the misdeeds of housemaids and the horrors of 
bugs, --details that sadly mar her letters in the estima- 
tion of unbiased readers . And coming down to the hard 
common- sense view of things, Mrs. Carlyle, though she 
could not be happy, had no just cause for complaint. She 
married a man of genius, and she was not a girl, but a 
woman of 27, and had read too much not to know that to 
marry a man of genius means unhappiness to any woman, 
as far as possession, which is what most women claim, 
goes. The man or woman of genius must and will, as 
long as genius burns, live his or her life out quite re- 
gardless of the needs of others. Also she knew quite 
well, or if not she was wilfully blinded, what his nature 
was before she married. She had known him long and 
intimately; he was frank to a fault. The man who on the 
very eve of marriage writes to the woman he loves — and 
his greatest detractor has never charged Carlyle with 
lack of love, however ill he may have shown it--as he 
did, could not be expected to prove a readily-molded or 
easily-entreated husband. The letter is in reply to one 
from Jane urging the feasibility of her mother's making 
her home with them after the marriage. Wrote Carlyle: 

It may be stated in a word: The man shall rule in the 
house and not the woman. This is an eternal axiom, the 
law of nature which no mortal departs from unpunished. 
I have meditated on this many years, and every day it 
grows plainer to me. I must not and cannot live in a 
house of which I am not head. . . . Now think, Liebchen, 
whether your mother will consent to forget her own riches 
and my poverty and uncertain, more probably my scanty, 
income, and consent in the spirit of Christian meekness 
to make me her guardian and director? 



(65) 
THE CASE OF THE CARLYLES AGAIN 

The long-promised addition to the Carlyle memoirs, 
the "Life of Jane Welsh Carlyle," by Mrs. Alexander Ire- 
land, Carlyle's niece, is now published in one substantial 
volume by Charles L. Webster & Co. of New York. There 
is little that is new save a few letters from Mrs. Carlyle 
to a Mrs. Dunning, a friend of her girlhood --letters which 
bear little on the life of the writer; and from Henry Larkin, 
a friend of both Mr. and Mrs. Carlyle, sundry personal 
recollections. Mrs. Ireland is very nearly as condemna- 
tory of Carlyle as he was himself; very likely her long at- 
tendance upon him in his declining years wore out her pa- 
tience and helped her to take this rather feminine view of 
the matter. 

In the biographical library which has grown out of the 
Carlyle incompatibility and the apologists therefor, there 
must be a space which would be most fitly filled by a cham- 
pion who should represent Carlyle's side of the difficulty. 



After this declaration according to the Mosaic law, did 
Mrs. Carlyle look for meekness? In point of fact, Car- 
lyle was quite as yielding as his wife, and certainly never 
twitted, while, according to the testimony of most partial 
friends, she was forever indulging herself in that exercise 
of conjugal rights. 

Mrs. Ireland makes a great point of their poverty. 
Mrs . Carlyle knew she was marrying a poor man and an 
impracticable one. If she sat up until midnight to bake a 
loaf of bread and wept during her vigil, there is many a 
common woman who has happily escaped the biographer 
who has done the same, 'Unhonored and unsung." Besides, 
Carlyle's poverty was not a crime, though it is invariably 
mentioned as one. Again, Mrs. Ireland laments more 
than once over the fact, again chargeable to Carlyle, that 
his wife's intellectual powers remained in abeyance. This 
is sheer nonsense. There never yet was that degree of 
ill-health short of the last illness, nor household drudg- 
ery, fret or worry of spirit, that could hinder one who 
had a message to give to the world, from giving it. If 



98 



Mrs. Carlyle had had a desire to write, she could and 
would have written, and Carlyle would have been the last 
person to prevent her. Had she devoted some of the time 
she spent on the diary which she left behind to make Car- 
lyle wretched, on the literary labors she is said to have 
been debarred from, it would have been better spent. 

Undoubtedly she made a grave mistake in her marriage, 
for she was a lady and he a peasant, --a gifted peasant in- 
deed, but none the less a peasant. He hurt her susceptibili- 
ties and jarred her delicate tastes a thousand times simply 
from their discrepancy of breeding. The hard austerities 
of life in Craigenputtock were to him inconveniences only, 
not occasions for despair. It was a sad mistake, but the 
knowledge should have died with the two most vitally con- 
cerned. A portrait of Mrs. Carlyle from a photograph 
taken in 1850, some 15 years before her death, forms 
the frontispiece of this book, and there is a facsimile let- 
ter showing her to have written a hand both delicate and 
clear, — above all the hand of a lady. 



PROF. NORTON ON THE CARLYLES 

In your article in yesterday's Republican on "The Case 
of the Carlyles," you speak of Mrs. Alexander Ireland, the 
author of the recent "Life of Jane Welsh Carlyle," as Car- 
lyle 's niece, and the tone of the book leads you to suggest 
that "her long attendance on him in his declining years 
wore out her patience." You have in this made a natural 
mistake, confusing Mrs. Alexander Ireland with Mrs. 
Alexander Carlyle. Mrs. Ireland is, I believe, in no way 
connected with Mr. or Mrs. Carlyle, and has no special 
qualifications from intimacy of acquaintance with them for 
writing the life of either. Her words and judgments must 
rest their claim to attention on other grounds . "The lov- 
ing care, unwearied patience and helpfulness" of his niece, 
of which Carlyle so speaks in his will, were not strained 
or difficult. The sympathy between uncle and niece was 
complete. 

Your article seems to me to present a correct view, so 
far as it goes, of conditions which have been much misin- 
terpreted. But one point needs qualification. You speak 
of Carlyle as "a peasant." Peasant by birth indeed, but 
Scotch peasant; no boor; and with education ,that made him 
familiar with life . C.E.Norton. 

Ashfield, August 6, 1891. 



(66) 
LOWELL---POET, CRITIC, REFORMER 

The death of James Russell Lowell, coming unexpected, 
as all deaths of famous men must- -since that which made 
them famous negatived the natural presumption of death- - 
directs the eyes of those who can remember almost his 
first distinction in literature to the slow steps by which he 
attained celebrity. He began with many advantages, he 
wrote and wrote verses almost as soon as Pope "lisped in 
numbers," or Shelley indulged in poetic atheism, yet he 
was almost of the age at which Shelley died before he at- 
tracted the world's notice by the "Fable for Critics" and 
the "Biglow Papers." These two books made him widely 
known, as his serious verse and his enthusiastic prose 



had not done; yet it was long before that Emerson and 
Hawthorne had foreseen his place in the world of letters . 
There is a passage in Hawthorne's "Hall of Fantasy," as 
first contributed to Lowell's own magazine, the "Pioneer," 
in 1843, in which, after mentioning Emerson and Alcott, 
Jones Very and Washington Allston as met in his imagi- 
nary hall "with a pavement of white marble and a lofty 
dome supported by long rows of pillars of fantastic archi- 
tecture," he describes Lowell as "the poet of the genera- 
tion that now enters upon the stage." Such indeed he was 
far more than Longfellow or Browning- -but not more than 
Tennyson, who is as exactly described by Hawthorne's 
words of the year 1843. 

Five years before that, at the age of 19, Lowell had 
confronted the little world of his youth- -Cambridge, Bos- 
ton, Concord and the New England sea-coast from Port- 
land to Barnstable- -with his first ambitious venture in 
verse, his class poem, written in Concord while he was 
in banishment there for some college offenses, but for- 
bidden by the faculty to be read by the poet to his class. 
This was the reason for printing it, no doubt, that those 
who could not hear it because the poet was under college 
punishment might read it at their leisure. Tradition says 
that he sat on class-day in a "one-horse-shay" which he 
had driven down from Concord that morning, and thence 
watched the procession and the revels of his classmates 
in the college yard; but I fancy he joined them before the 
next morning. Though gay at that period Lowell had "good 
principles," like Dr. Johnson's friend who always took off 
his hat when he passed a church, and in his boyish coup- 
lets championed old-fashioned Unitarianism stoutly, and 
mourned over the heresies of his hospitable friend Emer- 
son, who had that very summer given the earth-shaking 
divinity school address. These were Lowell's words: 

Alas ! that Christian ministers should dare 
To preach the views of Gibbon and Voltaire. 
Alas I that one whose life and gentle ways 
E'en hate could find it in its heart to praise, 
Whose intellect is equaled by but few, 
Should strive for what he'd weep to find were 
true. 

There is not much promise of the future poet or critic 
in these lines, nor anywhere in the brochure; and it is 
only in a kind of sonnet to Maria White at its close that 
we come upon lines which suggest what he afterward 
wrote, such as these: 

Lady I whom I have dared to call my Muse, 
With thee my lay began, with thee shall end. 

In fact, his love for Miss White did more to make him 
a poet and a radical than all other influences, --and this 
dates from about the period of his graduation in 1838. It 
was the inspiration of his first volume, "A Year's Life," 
published in 1841, in the "Proem" of which he said: 

So brighter grew the earth around, 

And bluer grew the sky above; 
The Poet now his guide hath found, 

And follows in the steps of Love . 



99 



Mr. Lowell's marriage did not occur until 1844, for the 
engagement was a long one; and in the interval he accepted 
the opinions and was inspired by the enthusiasm of Maria 
White, whose home in Watertown was not far from his own 
home at Mount Auburn, and who, like her brother, William 
White, had early joined the Garrisonian abolitionists; with 
whom, a few years sooner, Wendell Phillips and Edmund 
Quincy had cast in their lot. When Lowell joined them (he 
had studied law meantime) I cannot say, but in 1 843 he ap- 
pears as voting in their New England convention, along 
with William and Maria White, against the disunion reso- 
lution of Phillips. Yet he had written even then, I think, 
perhaps at that very convention, those spirited lines: 

Let liars fear, let cowards shrink, 

Let traitors turn away; 
Whatever we have dared to think 

That dare we also say. 
Whate'er we deem oppression's prop, 

Time-honored though it be, 
We break, --nor fear the heavens will drop 

Because the earth is free. 

No doubt Lowell's radicalism was of service to his genius, 
which would have led him astray but for this Puritanic 
check. As Nat Rogers quaintly said about the Hutchinson 
family, those sweet singers from New Hampshire, --"God 
be thanked they are in the anti-slavery movement, for 
their sake as well as for ours! Their music would ruin 
them but for the chastening influences of our glorious en- 
terprise. It will now inspire all their genius, and give it 
full play, and will guard them from the seductions of the 
flattering world. Anti-slavery is a safe regulator of the 
strongest genius." I find Lowell's name among the "coun- 
sellors" of the anti-slavery society of which Garrison was 
president, as late as 1851. Maria Lowell died in 1853, 
and he was never afterward so closely identified with the 
movement, and came to regard it in time with some dis- 
trust and some satire. 

The "Biglow Papers" began as newspaper squibs, and 
the author was led along by their success to make them 
the complete work which they in time became . In nothing 
that he wrote--not even in those essays on the English 
poets from Chaucer to Wordsworth, on which he spent so 
many years of thought, reading and expression—is the 
whole varied genius of the man so well brought out . They 
share with "Sir Launfal" the distinction of being every- 
where quoted, so that some passages have become pro- 
verbial; and they exhibit in all its universality Lowell's 
astonishing scholarship, which sometimes drew him dan- 
gerously near to pedantry, and often marred the edges of 
his poetic vision. In the Biglow Papers, however, this 
quality, like the familiarity of Cervantes with the rubbish 
of chivalresque romances, adds a new zest to the humor 
and the fun of the work, which now only awaits artistic 
illustration, like Don Quixote and the other masterpieces 
of humor, to become a world -renowned classic—for the 
humorous artist is essential to the universal success of 
such a work, unless like Shakespeare's comedy it is dra- 
matic and can be illustrated by living examples on the 
stage. 

The appointment of the anti- slavery poet as Harvard 
college professor, upon the retirement of Longfellow in 



1855, would have been as unexpected by Lowell a few 
years before as it was by the world at large when it was 
made. I suppose we may thank the abounding good sense 
of President Walker for it, although family influence and 
the friendship of Agassiz no doubt had something to do 
with it. His excellence as a lecturer had been observed 
at the Lowell institute in Boston two or three years earli- 
er, where also family feeling counted for something in 
his appointment to lecture, no doubt; for neither Emerson 
nor Theodore Parker, I believe, was ever asked to lec- 
ture at the Lowell institute, founded by a cousin of the 
poet. He prepared himself for his new duties by a third 
residence abroad, and when he took up his task was found 
to be one of the most agreeable and instructive of pro- 
fessors- -accomplishing more, I fancy, than ever Long- 
fellow could, because the time was more favorable to 
literary studies than the period of 20 years, from 1835 
to 1855, in which Longfellow held the same chair. He 
soon combined with his professor's duty the work of edit- 
ing the Atlantic, then new (1857-63), and this, when the 
war came on, drew from him the later Biglow Papers, 
which were needed to fill out the first conception of the 
character and give the work a national importance. In 
the years before the war, as he once told me, he had 
thought of sending Hosea to Kansas and relating through 
him the struggle there in 1856-58, but this was never 
done. Events crowded so fast, and Lowell's pen was in 
request so much for prose, politics and editorial work, 
that it was only the impulse of the civil war that brought 
Biglow and his parson to the front once more. 

The last 20 years of Lowell's life were filled with du- 
ties and honors, literary and political; and they gave a 
rounded finish to his work as author which it greatly 
needed. He was fitful in writing, as poets are apt to be, 
while novelists are not; sometimes he composed pages at 
a sitting, and again only a few lines in many days or weeks; 
and time made him very fastidious about publishing in the 
form of a book. Formerly he hastened into print; but of 
late years he must wait and refine, and needed the spur 
of an occasion to bring even short essays to completion. 
Much that he published in the last 10 years was written or 
sketched out long before; many of his ventures in verse 
were never finished and cannot see the light. The same 
is probably true of his long promised life of Hawthorne, 
in which he would have succeeded better than any of the 
numerous biographers of that shy and original man of 
genius. He must have left a mass of papers, letters and 
notes, which in the hands of some competent editor will 
add to the pleasure and instruction he has so long been 
giving to a responsive world, which for more than 30 
years has been eager to hear what he had to say, whether 
as poet, critic, historian, or political essayist. In this 
he was more fortunate than many poets, and quite on an 
equality with Longfellow, in whose career, except for 
domestic incidents, there was so little to mar its steady 
prosperity . 



(67) 
EMILY DICKINSON AND THE ENGLISH CRITICS 

It was venturesome in Col. Higginson to print so 
much of his very intimate correspondence with Emily 



100 



Dickinson- -and the natural consequence has followed --that 
the Philistines are laughing at it and at her verses. One 
of these English Philistines- -possibly Andrew Lang, who 
writes for the London News editorially- -has devoted a col- 
umn in that journal to the subject. Much that he says is 
indisputable, for example: "Her verse, at its very best, 
has a distant echo of Blake's. Poetry is a thing of many 
laws--felt and understood, and sanctioned by the whole ex- 
perience of humanity, rather than written. Miss Dickin- 
son in her poetry broke every one of the natural and salu- 
tary laws of verse. Hers is the very anarchy of the Muses, 
and perhaps in this anarchy lies the charm which has made 
her popular in America, and has caused Mr. Howells to 
say that she alone would serve to justify American liter- 
ary existence." 

I take exception to the word "anarchy" which is used in 
England to express all sorts of deviation from custom — 
highway robbery, mobbing the bishop of London, or refus- 
ing to wear a stove-pipe hat. But the irregularity of Miss 
Dickinson's verse does find more favor here than it could 
in England. But our Philistine goes on thus: "She seems 
to have been a kind of unfinished, rudimentary Bronte, 
and her character is so unusual and interesting, that it is 
a pity her rhymes should make matter for mirth. Unless 
all poets, from the earliest improvisers to laureate, have 
been wrong in their methods, Miss Dickinson cannot pos- 
sibly have been right in hers. Compared with her, Walt 
Whitman is a sturdy poetical conservative. Her only merit 
is an occasional picturesque touch, and a general pathetic 
kind of yearning and sense of futility." 

This is bad enough; but still worse is the parody that he 
makes, and his allusion to an English versifier, who seems 
to have lent an "effort" to this critic for the verdict. He 
says: "Miss Dickinson's verses scorn, almost equally, 
rhyme, grammar, rhythm, and sense. Most critics get 
odd poems from strangers, with requests for a candid 
opinion, which it is highly dangerous to give. For ex- 
ample, what can a man say to an author whose poem 'On 
a Gipsy Child in London' ends thus: 

So we leave her 

So we leave her, 
Far from where her swarthy kinsfolk roam, 

In the Scarlet Fever, 

Scarlet Fever, 
Scarlet Fever Convalescent Home. 

But this, at least, though betraying a lack of humor, has 
rhyme and common sense to recommend it. Miss Dickin- 
son's performances lack both of these desirable qualities." 
This is mere Philistinism, like that of the English coroner 
who read Wordsworth's verses in the house of commons, 
and made fun of them. Laughter is the easiest and the 
worst way of dealing with Wordsworth or with any serious 
poet . F . B . Sanborn . 

Concord, Oct. 26. 



(68) 
BRET HARTE, PHILIP FRENEAU AND 
THE POETIC ELEMENT IN FICTION 

The French novel of the worser sort has long held the 
place in literature that was once possessed by the so-called 



"comedy of the Restoration "--the plays of Etherege, 
Wycherley, Congreve, etc. --which astonish us at this 
day by the pretension ever to have amused and interest- 
ed even the vicious society for which they were written. 
Sir Richard Steele in the Spectator, criticising Ether- 
ege 's "Man of the Mode," said, "It cannot be denied but 
that the negligence of everything which engages the at- 
tention of the sober and valuable part of mankind appears 
very well drawn in this piece. But it is denied that 'tis 
necessary to the character of a fine gentleman that he 
should in that manner trample upon all order and decen- 
cy. I think nothing but being lost to a sense of innocence 
and virtue can make any one see this comedy without more 
frequent occasion for sorrow and indignation than mirth 
and laughter. I allow it to be nature- -but nature in its ut- 
most corruption and degeneracy." We may say the same 
of the great mass of unclean fiction in France, and of that 
which has been written in England and America in imita- 
tion of it, or under its influence. Happily there is not 
much of this as yet in American literature; but now and 
then it creeps in by way of translation. The rule for fic- 
tion in America is to be clean, whether wholesome or 
not- -whether profound or shallow, whether lively or in- 
tolerably dull--or, as is more likely to happen, begin- 
ning with liveliness, to end in dullness and vapidity. 

Nobody fails to read Bret Harte, who has once read 
him; if only to see how he will turn again and re-baptize 
in local color the good, old California warp and woof of 
his first short stories. Age cannot wither, nor custom 
stale the intimate variety of this performance, --"A First 
Family of Tasajara" is as interesting with its impossible 
plot and its familiar characters as were the first pieces 
that delighted the world in the Overland Monthly, 20-odd 
years ago, when I used to cut them out for reprinting in 
The Republican. There are certain stage tricks which 
he always uses, as they do at the theater, and have done 
ever since Thespis mounted his hay-cart in the forest of 
Marathon and began the whole business of theaters and 
opera-houses. But there is always a new piece set into 
the old garment, the two or three women who serve as 
foils to each other are shuffled into the pack and dealt 
round differently; so are the king and the knave and the 
deuce; and the only card that remains unchanged is that 
carte-blanche little joker, Jack Hamlin, as immortal as 
Ash-heels or any of the Homeric characters. It is, in 
fact, the Homeric flavor of these stories that keeps them 
going", they open a land of romance as far removed from 
ordinary life as the land of Cyclops or the palace of Al- 
cinous; and there is a great deal of primitive human na- 
ture, tinctured with unsuspected civilization, in these 
Clementinas and Euphemias, and arch-widows from Phil- 
adelphia, --among whom, as with the princess Nausicaa, 
there is a resolute purpose to get married to somebody, 
and to have plenty of good clothes for that occasion. The 
plot in this last romance is simply impossible; --a raft 
comes drifting down in a freshet, lands two heroes in the 
back yard of the heroine, and carries off the other one, 
with a hole in his head, out to sea, where he is picked up 
by sailors and disappears from the scene for five years. 
The Greek novels have nothing more elaborately incon- 
ceivable than this in their wild machinery of pirates and 
magicians; only the Arabian Nights excels Bret Harte in 
this region of the impossible. But the reader swallows 



101 



it all, as the child does the wonders of Sinbad and Aladdin; 
and as the disciples of Gen. Butler swallow his noble deeds 
and the villainous persecutions that have thwarted his phi- 
lanthropies . 

Here we have that poetic element in fiction which never 
fails to charm mankind. Other styles may weary us and 
pass away; realism has its day and its disgusting or dreary 
incidents, and then disappears to return again by and by; 
but the wondrous tale of Alroy or somebody else, of Ulys- 
ses, of ^heas, of King Arthur, of Roland, of William Tell, 
of the Cid, --these and their replications are in evidence 
perpetually. Try in fiction the realistic Indian of our prai- 
ries and forest, --frowsy, nasty, treacherous, lazy, lust- 
ful — and see what sort of novel you can make with him. But 
now try the ideal red man of Dryden, of Chateaubriand, of 
Campbell, of Cooper, --and the pleasing fiction sails away 
and enchants millions in all lands and for centuries . As 
Emerson said of the sea: 

Illusion dwells forever with the wave, 

so we may say of the American Indian. Take Freneau's 
verses, from which Campbell stole a line, and which Jef- 
frey told Dr. Francis would some day rank as a grand 
poem: 

THE INDIAN BURYING-GROUND 



There oft a restless Indian queen 
(Pale Shebah, with her braided hair) 
And many a barbarous form is seen 
To chide the man who lingers there. 

By midnight moons, o'er moistening dews, 
In vestments for the chace array 'd, 
The hunter still the deer pursues , 
The hunter and the deer , a shade. 

I have omitted one or two of the stanzas, preserving 
only the best ones, and will here pause in this digression 
to remark that Freneau, like Tennyson, had been a care- 
ful reader of Andrew Marvell, from whom both have 
cribbed a line. The second one in this poem of Freneau's 
is from that graceful piece of cynicism which Marvell en- 
titled "Mourning," and which closes thus: 

How wide they dream ! the Indian slaves , 
That sink for pearl through seas profound, 

Would find her tears yet deeper waves, 
And not of one the bottom sound. 

I yet my silent judgment keep , 

Disputing not what they believe; 
But sure, as oft the women weep, 

It is to be supposed they grieve. 



In spite of all the learn 'd have said, 
I still my old opinion keep; 
The posture that we give the dead 
Points out the soul's eternal sleep. 

Not so the ancients of these lands- - 
The Indian, when from life releas'd, 
Again is seated with his friends, 
And shares again the joyous feast. 

His imag'd birds, and painted bowl, 
And ven'son, for a journey dress'd, 
Bespeak the nature of the soul, 
Activity , that knows no rest. 

His bow, for action ready bent, 
And arrows, with a head of stone, 
Can only mean that life is spent. 
And not the finer essence gone . 



Freneau not only caught the melody of this measure — not 
perfectly to be sure- -but he captured the italicised line, 
deformed it a little, as gypsies do stolen children, and 
made it his own; just as Tennyson borrowed the phrase 
"vegetable loves" from Marvell. I may have mentioned 
this before, --but this sweet English Horace is so little 
read that I like to remind the admirers of Aldrich and 
Austin Dobson that there was such a charming poet; and 
I would advise the gloomy and gnomic and picturesque 
poets of our magazines to hunt up Freneau and read him . 
Scott had done so before he wrote "Ivanhoe," and, no 
doubt, his quick ear caught the music of these verses: 

By Babel's streams we sat and wept, 
When Sion bade our sorrows flow; 

Our harps on lofty willows slept 

That near those distant waters grow; 

The willows high, the waters clear 

Beheld our toils and sorrows there. 



Thou, stranger, that shalt come this way, 
No fraud upon the dead commit, — 
Observe the swelling turf, and say, 
They do not lie, but here they sit. 

Here still a lofty rock remains, 
On which the curious eye may trace 
(Now wasted, half, by wearing rains) 
The fancies of a ruder race. 

Here still an aged elm aspires, 
Beneath whose far -protecting shade 
(And which the shepherd still admires) 
The children of the forest play'd! 



How shall we, cruel tyrant, raise 
A song on such a distant shore? 

If I forget my Sion's praise, 

May my right hand assume no more 

To strike the silver-sounding string, 

And thence the slumbering music bring. 




102 



(69) 
CARLYLE'S PETTY CRITICISM OF EMERSON- 
HAWTHORNE ON THE CIVIL WAR 

Two rather notable utterances have appeared in print 
lately respecting our two most original and profound Ameri- 
can men of letters, Emerson and Hawthorne. One is Car- 
lyle's rather churlish and petty criticism of his old friend 
Emerson, to Gavan Duffy, his young Irish friend, which 
the latter reports in an English Review; the other is the 
revelation of his own letters concerning Hawthorne's at- 
titude in the Civil War, now made public by his college 
friend, Horatio Bridge. Carlyle is reported as saying that 
Emerson borrowed his opinions, in part, from "Sartor 
Resartus," and as mimicking the way in which Emerson 
met objections with "Yissir, yissir." 

There was always strong evidence of the original an- 
cestral churl in Carlyle, and the publications made in his 
name since his death give instances enough of this. In this 
latest example it would seem that Carlyle had in mind the 
later English fashion, strongly by contrasting with the for- 
mer custom, and with our American way of saying "Sir" 
to an elder or a superior, or merely as a civility in con- 
versation. Emerson doubtless had the American habit of 
speaking, which had, by 1848, become a kind of shibboleth 
in England- -to avoid. A college friend of my own, who 
had known Thomas Cholmondeley well in this country, -- 
an Oxford scholar, German student, New Zealand sheep- 
farmer, and always, as Wellington said of himself, gentil- 
homme Anglais --told me this anecdote when he returned 
from visiting Cholmondeley in Shropshire in 1859. 

"At dinner I had addressed Rev. Z. M., our host, as 
'Sir.' As we sat smoking together afterwards in C. 's 
room, he said to me: 'I noticed, X., that you said 'Sir' 
to my stepfather; we no longer use that expression in Eng- 
land. I might say it to William here,' pointing to the valet 
who came in with a tray, 'but among ourselves we never 
use it.'" It was the same Mentor who gave X. , as he was 
going to Paris, this advice, --"Never talk French to a 
Frenchman! If he knows a word of English, make him 
speak English. Nothing takes 'em down like that." 

Speaking of his friend's politics, Mr. Bridge says: "In 
later years, when the doctrine of abolition was prominently 
brought forward, Hawthorne, like conservative men of all 
parties, was outspoken against it. He held that the consti- 
tution was valid and binding upon all the States, and that no 
one who did not recognize a higher law could honestly inter- 
fere with the institutions of the Southern States, as guaran- 
teed to them by the constitution." There is something de- 
licious in this exception—as if Hawthorne himself ever be- 
lieved the constitution of 1787 the highest law of the uni- 
verse! If the writer of those books of his had not "recog- 
nized a higher law" than any human contrivance they would 
never have been so impressive. But no doubt Hawthorne 
found the abolitionists inconvenient, as many others did. 

The letters from Hawthorne to himself, which Mr. 
Bridge cites, tell the story of his opinions respecting our 
Civil War, which, by the stern demand it made upon his 
sympathies and aversions, no doubt shortened his life. 
Mr. Bridge says: "Like many other loyal men, he almost 
despaired of success; but he wished 'to fight to the death 
for the Northern slave States, and let the rest go .' He 
had no sympathy with the South during the Rebellion, but 



he rejoiced in every Union victory, and approved and 
applauded the granting of liberal military supplies, and 
the vigorous prosecution of the war." 

The words in quotation are found in a letter of Haw- 
thorne's of October, 1861, and in an earlier one (May 26, 
1861) he had written: "I rejoice that the old Union is 
smashed. We never were one people , and never really 
had a country since the Constitution was formed." This 
was coming very near to the position of the abolitionists, 
and still nearer was this phrase in the same letter: "The 
annihilation of slavery may be a wise object, and offers 
a tangible result- -the only one which is consistent with a 
future reunion between the North and the South." This 
was exactly John Brown's opinion; and he had said to me, 
two years earlier, what Hawthorne next added in this re- 
markable letter, "We should see the expediency of pre- 
paring our black brethren for future citizenship by allow- 
ing them to fight for their own liberties." So identical 
are the insights of idealists. 

As for temporary disunion, and the virtual disunion 
existing under the forms of national unity, I have a per- 
sonal reminiscence of Hawthorne, quite agreeing with 
these letters. I dined with him on Christmas day, 1862, 
and the conversation turned much on the war and on the 
proposal of Martin Conway, then congressman from Kan- 
sas, that the South should be allowed to withdraw. Haw- 
thorne thought there was a great deal in Conway's plan, 
and he said to me: "We were always two nations, the 
North and the South; I felt that all the time I was in Eng- 
land." In a letter to Mr. Bridge of Feb. 14, 1862, he 
had said: "It would be too great an absurdity to spend 
our Northern strength for the next generation in holding 
on to a people who insist on being let loose." And then 
he adds, what Conway and all the radicals were then say- 
ing: "If we do hold them, I should think Sumner's terri- 
torial plan the best way." 

Hawthorne's friendship for Gen. Pierce, who was sup- 
posed to be, in 1863, an enemy to the Northern cause (as, 
to some extent, no doubt he was), made his dedication of 
"Our Old Home" to that friend of his youth very natural, 
but also very disagreeable to his other friends. He re- 
fused to withdraw or suppress it, however, though it came 
at a time when the draft riots in New York made Pierce's 
attitude seem almost treasonable to many of us. Gen. 
Pierce was a very bad president, but not a very bad man 
--certain foibles excepted; and had it not been for the 
slavery question he might have been a good president. 
We laughed a great deal at his nomination, and at the old 
farmer's speech that "Frank Pierce was well enough for 
New Hampshire, but he would be very thin in spots if you 
spread him out over the whole country." But when we see 
Hill of New York put forward for the presidency, he makes 
Pierce, by contrast, almost seem a great man, which Haw- 
thorne never claimed for him. He was, at any rate, a 
genial and gentlemanly person, and the last New England 
president we are likely to have, except by accident. 

Hawthorne evidently had some misgivings about his 
friend, in the great office he had undertaken, and for 
which he was so unfit. He writes to Bridge in 1854: "I 
wish you would send me the most minute particulars 
about Pierce- -how he looks and behaves when you meet 
him, how his health and spirits are- -and, above all, 
what the public really thinks of him." Later he writes: 



103 



"I hate to have him left without one true friend, or one 
man who will speak a single word of truth to him." Con- 
sidering that Caleb Cushing was in his cabinet and nomi- 
nally his intimate friend, this is a very significant sen- 
tence. Hawthorne was a keen judge of human nature and 
seldom erred on the favorable side. 

Concord, Feb. 27. F. B. Sanborn. 



(70) 

COL. HIGGINSON'S IDEAS ON AMERICA 

AND AMERICANS 

A volume of very pleasant short essays by Thomas 
Wentworth Higginson, gleaned from various magazines 
and papers, has been published by Lee & Shepard under 
the title of "The New World and the New Book." These es- 
says have a common central idea — the desirability of culti- 
vating not only love of country, but pride of country; or, 
since the message is addressed to Col. Higginson's own 
countrymen and women, it may be said to be Americanism 
considered as a fine art. Mr. Higginson feels the apparent 
defection of a certain class of Americans very keenly; yet 
it is apparent only, one is inclined to think, for while a 
few fools may really despise or be ashamed of their coun- 
try, with the most who affect to do so it is merely a fad. 
As for the overcultured Henry James, against whom the 
author evinces a certain bitterness of speech, it cannot be 
that he has even so much as glanced at Mr. James's por- 
traits. So sad a look of melancholy could only be engraved 
by a depth of ennui which but to imagine is to fill the be- 
holder's heart with pity. As for the English notions about 
us, which Col. Higginson regards with more seriousness 
and what appears like wounded pride, that surely is of 
small consequence unless it impugns our honor as a na- 
tion. The author says, as others have said, that "there 
are commonly two ways to eminent social success for an 
American in foreign society — to be more European than 
Europeans themselves, or else to surpass all other Amer- 
icans in some amusing peculiarity which foreigners sup- 
pose to be Americans." Suppose that to be true, or partly 
true, we still have the blessed privilege of appreciating 
our own deserts and their stupidity for what they are 
worth. Mr. Higginson also laments that England never 
valued Lowell for anything except his "Biglow Papers" un- 
til he visited it as our minister. Lowell never did his 
country truer service than in that shrewd epitome of 
American politics. 

The paper on "The decline of the sentimental," con- 
tains much that is entertaining. To reflect on the fash- 
ionable song and novel of the days "before the war" is di- 
verting to the elder generation. Among the poets much 
read at that time he omits one or two that deserve men- 
tion. Amelia B. Welby and Frances S. Osgood, more 
particularly "Amelia," were promised undying fame by 
no less a critic than Edgar Allan Poe. Who recalls even 
the name of Amelia Welby now? Those who can remember 
the sadly serious moralizings of Mrs. Sigourney heard 
with an amused shock, the lines- - 

But those whose hearts are like the summer dust 
Burn to their sockets- 



quoted by one of the characters in Mansfield's render- 
ing of "Jekyll and Hyde." Mrs. Sigourney flourished in 
the days of N. P. Willis and Fanny Fern, whose "Little 
Letties" were no more tearful than "Little Nell" and 
"Little Paul." In animadverting on certain Anglicisms 
which he finds offensive, Mr. Higginson falls foul of 
some amusing solecisms of Rider Haggard, but errs in 
finding, as he apparently does, Juliana Ewing, the only 
English writer who uses the word "nigger" for "colored 
person." There are many English writers, from Carlyle 
and Thackeray down, who habitually use it to denote every 
skin which is not white, from a Hindu rajah to a Guinea 
slave. It is also to be remarked as an idiosyncrasy of 
the author, that in enumerating American writers of to- 
day who meet with his approval, he couples with the 
names of George Cable and Dr. Eggleston that of "Julien 
Gordon," who really ought not to be named in better com- 
pany than that of Gertrude Franklin Atherton, Amelie 
Rives Chanler, Frank S. Saltus, and such specimens of 
fin de sificle development. 



(71) 
THOREAU THE WALKER 

Now comes on the season for walking, when the buds 
and the birds, the early flowers and the spring willows, 
the glancing of swollen waters in the sun, or the flight of 
April clouds, call forth the lovers of nature. The mere 
love of rambling also sets people walking at this season, 
as Thoreau said, 

When the spring stirs my blood 
With the instinct to travel. 

He was himself the incarnation of walking, --never 
moving in any other way except to save time, --for his 
sailing up and down the river was simply walking with 
his hands, as he plied the paddle or managed the little 
sail. Channing's life of Thoreau is now out of print, 
and will not soon be republished, though it is by far the 
best, --so I may make some extracts from it in that form 
which I copyrighted and printed in 1863-4. 

Thoreau, says his biographer, did his stint of walking 
on Cape Cod, where a stranger attracts a pleasing share 
of criticism; and "looked despairingly at the sandy vil- 
lage, whose street he must run the gauntlet of, there 
only by sufferance, and feeling as strange as if he were 
in a town in China." One of the old men could not believe 
that Thoreau was not a pedler, but said, after all expla- 
nations failed, "Well, it makes no odds what it is you 
carry, so long as you carry truth along with you." One 
of those idiots who may be found in some of the houses, 
grim and silent, one night mumbled he would get his gun, 
"and shoot that damned pedler." But nothing disconcerted 
the hardy pedestrian. 

Once, Channing says, he "appeared in a mist in a re- 
mote part of the Cape, with a bird tied to the top of his 
umbrella, which he shouldered like a gun; the inhabitants 
of the cottages were credulous about his story, and set 
the traveller down for a 'crazy fellow.' At Orleans he 
was comforted by two Italian organ boys, who had ground 



104 



their harmonies from Provincetown, 50 miles in the sand, 
as fresh and gay as larks. He once stopped at a hedge- 
tavern, where a large white bulldog was kept in the entry; 
on asking the bartender what Cerberus would do to an ear- 
ly riser, he replied, 'Do, do--why he would tear out the 
substance of your pantaloons'- -this was a good notice not 
to quit the premises without meeting the rent." 

In another part of New England, once upon a time, as 
he came late into a town devoid of a tavern, "on going to 
the best looking house in the place for a bed, he got one in 
the entry within range of the family; his speech and man- 
ners being those of polite society, --but in some of our re- 
tired towns there are traditions of lodgers who arise be- 
fore light and depart with the feather bed, or the origin of 
feathers in the hen-coop." Walking in old Dunstable, "he 
much desired the town history by C. J. Fox, and knocking, 
as usual, at the best house, went in and asked a young lady 
who made her appearance whether she had the book in ques- 
tion. She had--it was produced. After consulting it, Tho- 
reau, in his sincere way, inquired very modestly whether 
she "would not sell it to him.* I think the plan surprised 
her, and have heard that she smiled, but he produced his 
wallet, gave her the pistareen and went his way rejoicing 
with the book." 

Thoreau was not averse to plain companions, and so 
simple were his habits and his dress that he did not repel 
them at the first glance, as well-dressed people often do. 
He was one of those voyagers who may pass the night on 
the steamer's deck and see the mountains in moonlight, in 
place of trying to sleep below; he did this once on the Hud- 
son, at the prow, when, after a "hem" or two, the passen- 
ger who stood next inquired in good faith, "Come, now, 
can't ye lend me a chaw o' baccy?" "He looked like a 
shipmate. It was on another Albany steamboat that he 
walked the deck hungrily among the fine gentlemen and 
ladies, eating upon a half-loaf of bread, his dinner for 
the day." 

Thoreau had some knowledge of Long Island and Staten 
Island and Perth Amboy and the waters about New York, 
though he detested that city, and he has described one of 
his fellow-voyages in those latitudes: "Getting into Patch - 
ogue late one night, there was a drunken Dutchman on 
board, whose wit reminded me of Shakespeare. When 
we came to leave the beach our boat was aground and we 
were detained, waiting for the tide. In the meanwhile, 
two of the fishermen took an extra dram at the beach 
house. Then they stretched themselves on the seaweed 
by the shore in the sun, to sleep off the effects of their 
debauch. One was an inconceivably broad-faced young 
Dutchman, but O, of such a peculiar breadth and heavy 
look I should not know whether to call it more ridiculous 
or sublime. You would say that he had humbled himself 
so much that he was beginning to be exalted." 

This was his first estate, but as the toper neared home 
he developed another character . "When we were groping 
up the narrow creek of Patchogue at 10 o'clock at night, 
keeping our boat now from this bank, now from that, with 
a pole, the two inebriates aroused themselves betimes. 
And the Dutchman gave wise directions to the steerer, 
which were not heeded (told where eels were plenty in the 
dark, etc.). At last, he suddenly stepped on to another 
boat which was moored to the shore, with a divine ease 
and sureness, saying: 'Well, good night, take care of 



yourselves, I can't be with you any longer.' He was one 
of the few remarkable men I have met. When I said, 
'You have had a hard time of it today,' he answered with 
indescribable good humor out of the very midst of his de- 
bauch, with watery eyes, 'It doesn't happen every day.* 
It was happening then." 

Indeed, the repugnance which many felt to Thoreau 
was chiefly among the learned or conventional class, 
over whose tender toes he would march without scruple; 
and the more vanity they had, the more they could not 
abide him. Women were his friends, and seldom spoke 
ill of him . His biographer says : "He drew near him 
simple, unlettered Christians, who had knotty questions 
they wished to sit over and discuss; for, though nothing 
was less to his mind than chopped logic, he was ready to 
accommodate those who differed from him with his opin- 
ion; and was never too much convinced by opposition. 
He had his views on disputed matters and did not change 
them easily. To those in need of information- -to the 
farmer botanist, naming the new flower; the boy with 
his puzzle, of birds or roads, or the young woman seek- 
ing for books and a guide-post for her reading--he was 
always ready to give what he had, and would freely call 
on them: nor were these relations interrupted." 



(72) 
CLOUGH, CHOLMONDELEY AND IDEALISM 
IN ENGLAND AND AMERICA 

The death of the only sister of Arthur Hugh Clough, at 
the age of 75, recalls the memory of that excellent poet 
and amiable man, who died more than 30 years ago at 
Florence, and is buried in the same cemetery with Lan- 
dor, Theodore Parker and Mrs. Browning. He was a bet- 
ter poet than many that have had a greater reputation, be- 
fore and since; and as Falstaff said he was not only witty 
himself, "but the cause that wit is in other men, "--so 
Clough made his friend Arnold a better poet when writing 
about him. "The Scholar Gypsy" and "Thyrsis" are the 
two best of Arnold's poems, to my thinking, and the lat- 
ter, like all good elegiac poetry, is likely to live a long 
time. So will some of Clough's verses, though hardly so 
vigorous as those of Lucretius, with whom an English 
critic oddly compared him. 

Writing with that noble disregard of American geogra- 
phy which the English always display, Mr. T. H. Ward 
says that Clough "passed some years of his childhood at 
Charleston in Virginia "; much as if we should say that 
Jeffrey lived at Edinburgh in Wales. Clough's father, 
who was a cotton broker, did live a few years at Charles- 
ton in South Carolina, — I suppose, during the struggle be- 
tween Jackson and Calhoun; but the young poet took no col- 
oring from Carolina, I fancy. He was an Oxford scholar, 
an early disciple of Emerson, and gently averse to the 
worldliness of English society and the English church, 
for which both he and Matthew Arnold might seem to have 
been destined. Something American was infused into him, 
atmospherically or otherwise, and he came over to our 
Cambridge for two years, where I used to see and hear 
him. Returning suddenly in 1853, he married, became 
an official under government, like Arnold, and ceased 
to write verses, without ceasing to be a poet. 



105 



Arnold and Clough had feigned to accept Glanville's 
weird story of the scholar-gypsy, who still roams, they 
said, through Oxfordshire and Berkshire; and this in 
"Thyrsis" is Arnold's melodious account of him: 

A fugitive and gracious light he seeks, 

Sky to illumine; and I seek it too. 

This does not come with houses or with gold, 

With place, with honor, and a flattering crew; 

'Tis not in the world's market bought and sold. 

But the smooth-slipping weeks 

Drop by, and leave its seeker still untired; 

Out of the heed of mortals he is gone. 

He wends unfollowed, he must house alone, 

Yet on he fares, by his own heart inspired. 

Thou too, O Thyrsis, on like quest wert bound, 

Thou wanderedst with me for a little hour; 

Men gave thee nothing; but this happy quest, 

If men esteemed thee feeble, gave thee power, 

If men procured thee trouble, gave thee rest; 

I hear thy voice resound, -- 

"Why faintest thou? I wandered till I died. 

Roam on! the light we sought is shining still. 

Dost thou ask proof? Our Tree yet crowns the hill. 

Our Scholar travels yet the loved hillside." 

I have ventured to unite the best parts of two stanzas 
by a metallic process which mechanics call "brazing, "-- 
in order to bring together the beginning and the end of this 
clear picture of the idealist, --a figure perhaps more com- 
mon in America than in England. Such was Alcott, such 
Thoreau, and such I may say is Henry Salt, the last biog- 
rapher of Thoreau: who, when I saw him in London, made 
me think of Clough, as I had seen him in Cambridge nearly 
40 years before --almost the same age, equal scholarship, 
and if less poetic gift, an intention no less ideal to live by 
the impulse from within, rather than the calls from with- 
out. 

A pupil of Clough's was that T. C. , the Englishman of 
whom I have once or twice spoken. Writing to me in 1857, 
he said: "I confess I hate anything approaching to 'busi- 
ness* or 'investments to bring in ever so much' more than 
they ought. I assure you it is with the utmost difficulty I 
can manage what little I possess already, without a thought 
of increasing it. A single care would rob me of the gayety 
and ease of my life. If I was to settle in America- -or buy 
land there-- it would not be with any such view. But I have 
sometimes thought of turning 'hunter,' and in that case I 
should like a nook (a cabin and a flower garden)- -nothing 
more — in which to pass my vacations. As for universities 
and magazines, God knows I am tired of the very names." 

"Your letter shows a very forecasting and ambitious 
soul! Why should you, my friend, roll the stone up the 
hill. Leave it to Sisyphus. You will never be happy and 
virtuous till you cast out the fiend; and when he is once 
gone you will have no occasion to ask for anything. God 
will so fill your hand from morning to night that you will 
only say, 'Hold, hold, give me less at a time.' He is like 
the air, and we live in him from day to day. I would have 
you do the same and not forecast. To forecast is a delu- 
sion of the fiend, and likely to rob you of your delicious 
youth. If you must have a solace prepared for your age, 



learn to play the fiddle; and then, even if your eyes fail, 
you will have a friend, supposing you keep the use of 
your fingers." 

"I have lately seen the celebrated Horse Fair of Rosa 
Bonheur, which one of your countrymen has bought, and 
upon my honor, it is magnificent. Having seen that and 
read 'Aurora Leigh,' I begin to think that the day is com- 
ing when women will take the lead of our sex altogether. 
We are engaged with our races at present, and, as usual, 
'dark' horses generally win. Parliament is also going on, 
but nobody seems to care much about it. Tell Thoreau 
that I am reading the memoirs of the Emperor Baber with 
great satisfaction. He was no doubt a conqueror among 
wits, as well as a wit among conquerors. His descrip- 
tion of the gardens he found or made are of the best. He 
is translated by Erskine and Leyden. Perhaps the strang- 
est part of the fellow is the mixture of religion and licen- 
tiousness. He was rigid in his prayers by day and night, 
while on the other hand, he actually gives an account of 
an infamous passion he fell into, as if it was the most 
reasonable thing in the world. English and Irish words 
occur in his vocabulary. Kuragh means a meadow; per- 
haps you have heard of the Curragh of Kildare . Oti is 
wild grass of a certain kind, which is indigenous in part 
of Central Asia." All this is so old, as Thoreau would 
say, that it is positively fresh and new- -coming, as it 
did, from an English idealist of the most serious sort. 

Those who have the good fortune to hear the Tuesday 
afternoon lectures of Percival Chubb in this city, now 
going on, may see another type of the English idealist, 
and one adapted to our fast-changing age. It is the pe- 
culiarity of the ideal to change but little, however, -- 
though its light is reflected at a different angle from 
those varying objects of earthly pursuits on which the 
splendor falls . In England this quality can never be out 
of place, and the more it is rare, the more it should be 
esteemed. One of the most worldly of her poets, in the 
most profligate of periods, felt constrained to implore 
the angels (whom he styled "ye blest harmonious choir") 
to 

Look down with pity from your peaceful bower 

On this sad isle, perplext 

And ever, ever vext 
With anxious care of trifles, wealth and power. 



Concord, March 23. 



F. B. Sanborn. 



(73) 
WALT WHITMAN, "THE ONLY ONE " 

Walt Whitman, "Kosmos,"--an original, unique and 
great force in American literature, a philosopher, poet 
and prophet of American life, and one of its immortal 
representatives, has departed this mode of life for an- 
other and ampler mode; as he long since said in antici- 
patory greeting, 

Joy! shipmate- -joy! 
(Pleased to my soul at death I cry.) 
Our life is closed--our life begins; 
The long, long anchorage we leave, 



The ship is clear at last, she leaps! 
She swiftly courses from the shore ! 
Joy! shipmate--joy! 

The temper of this verse is so emphatically the temper of 
the poet throughout all he has written that he has not been 
inaptly spoken of as "the poet of joy" with respect to all 
things . But his great and special distinction is that of a 
messenger of democracy to the world, a new expositor of 
the brotherhood of man, and of the destiny of this country 
as the fulfiller of that brotherhood. Whitman is to be re- 
garded in no slight and partial view, for, like other worlds, 
this "kosmos" must be viewed spherically--totus, teres, 
atque rotundus; and his dimensions are not to be taken in 
that cheap and easy fashion in which the small wits of the 
newspapers and magazines have commonly attempted to 
measure him. Conceiving himself as charged with a mes- 
sage, although hardly comprehending at the outset its full 
scope and import, Whitman chose deliberately to deliver 
it in a new way; and undoubtedly competent to the mastery 
of the old rhythmic devices, he cast behind him all such 
adventitious conventionalities, and challenged attention by 
long marching sentences, which bore their burden by main 
strength, and compelled the attention of the world to the 
character of that burden. Certain grave errors in its con- 
stitution have operated to prevent a frank and general ac- 
knowledgment, or even understanding of the full purport 
of the message, but that it is important, and on the whole 
proudly and nobly uttered, will without question come to 
be the verdict of thinkers and patriots. Walt Whitman's 
"foothold is tenoned and mortised in granite." 

"The good gray poet," as he has long been known, was 
born in the farming hamlet of West Hills, on Long Island, 
May 31, 1819. His father was of English descent, his 
mother of Dutch, and her name Van Velsor, if we remem- 
ber aright. He does not mention his father, except by im- 
plication, in his poems, but he often refers to his mother 
in terms which indicate the most devoted affection. In the 
preface to "Two Rivulets" (1876) he speaks of her (two 
years after her death) as 'the most perfect and magnetic 
character, the rarest combination of practical, moral and 
spiritual, and the least selfish of any I have ever known- - 
and by me O so much the most deeply loved." She was a 
strong, handsome woman, of the Hollander type, modified 
by the residence of generations in America, and by some 
infusion of other than Holland blood, for her mother was 
a Williams, supposedly of Welsh descent. From her Whit- 
man without doubt drew his characteristics, mental and 
physical, rather than from the descent which gave him his 
name, illustrating the rule that strongly marked men de- 
rive from their mothers that which makes them notable. 
As a boy Whitman went to the public schools in Brooklyn, 
but at thirteen years of age he learned to set type, and 
afterward became a journeyman printer, alternating that 
business with school teaching winters . When he was 28 
he began his travels, south, west and north, traversing 
the whole country and the Canadas, setting type in a place 
as long as he wanted to or as jobs held out, and now and 
then he tried his hand at editing newspapers, as at New 
Orleans . He brought up in Brooklyn after a year or two 
of this life, and set type, helped edit (among others a pa- 
per conducted by Levi D. Slamm and called the Plebeian), 
worked at the carpenter's bench and drove a Broadway 



106 



omnibus- -anything to see life and be a part of it. The 
consuming love of laboring humanity in all phases, which 
makes him by far the truest democrat in letters, grew by 
this treatment and fully took possession of Whitman; he 
mingled with all sorts and conditions of men, and found 
them all good in their place, or with something to say to 
him, and something for him to say to others. 

It was thus that the first idea of his speech to the world 
came, and was sent forth under the singular title, "Leaves 
of Grass, "--meaning thereby to indicate its spontaneous, 
abundant, omnipresent growth, --the simplest and most 
catholic utterance of the voice of Mother Nature . This 
book, a thin quarto in large type, whose contents were put 
in type by himself, and issued of course at his expense 
and privately, was produced in 1855. Before this he had 
written a great deal besides what he had done on news- 
papers—sketches, essays and even verses for various 
periodicals, and especially he was a frequent contributor 
to the old Democratic Review, under his proper name of 
Walter Whitman. Curious enough the Democratic Review 
contributions read now, --tame conventional stuff, noway 
foreshadowing the vilipender of formulas that he became. 
When he sent forth "Leaves of Grass," he dropped the 
last syllable of his given name and adopted the off-hand 
Walt, by which he was known and called. Copies of this 
audacious book he sent to persons whose opinions he 
wanted, among others to Ralph Waldo Emerson, who 
straightway welcomed him "at the outset of a great ca- 
reer," finding in his book "incomparable things said in- 
comparably." Whitman straightway published the letter, 
much to the sage's embarrassment, who had not guarded 
his recognition at all, and was thus made to appear toler- 
ant of Whitman's offenses against decency, although these 
were afterward matters of serious remonstrance from 
him, as they were necessarily most repugnant of his own 
taste. Whitman published several more editions of his 
book, much enlarging it, before the war came and took 
the poet into its great body of human forces, working for 
that enlargement of American life which was his cher- 
ished idea. 

The poet's father had died in 1855, as "Leaves of 
Grass" was going through the press. In 1862 his brother, 
Col. George W. Whitman of Camden, N.J., was wounded 
in one of the battles in Virginia, and Walt went to the 
hospital to take care of him . He continued in hospital 
service, in the camps, on the fields, or at the many hos- 
pitals around and in Washington, throughout the war and 
into the fall of 1865. In the course of this volunteer serv- 
ice, which made him as truly a hero of the war as march- 
ing and fighting in the ranks would have done, the strong 
man, who had never known a day's sickness in his life, 
contracted a blood-poisoning, as it is understood, which 
lingered in his system and resulted finally in a stroke of 
paralysis at Washington in 1873. Just after this blow fell 
his mother died; a sister who was very dear to him had 
died shortly before, and as it became impossible to hope 
for restoration of health, he resigned his clerkship in the 
attorney- general's office, which he had held for nearly 
nine years. Previously he had filled, for the first half of 
1865, a clerkship in the interior department, spending 
his time out of office hours in the hospitals. From this 
post Secretary Harlan turned him out on the sole ground 
of his authorship of "Leaves of Grass." It was then that 



107 
the late William Douglas O'Connor gave him the name of 
"the good gray poet" in an indignant and savage pamphlet 
of protest against the gross injustice of this treatment. 
The poet's health did not rally after the breakdown of 1873, 
and the paralysis has crept slowly on ever since, though 
not deterring him from a great amount of literary work 
even up to the very latest. He took up his abode in Cam- 
den, N.J., at first with his brother, Col. Whitman, then 
city inspector of gas-pipes, and during the year of the 
centennial the little brick house with marble window sills 
and doorsteps (quite in the Philadelphia style), on Stevens 
street in Camden, was a resort of many pilgrims. In that 
city he had made his home ever since, but for some years 
living in a small hired house of his own, as the apostle 
Paul did; and making occasional trips to various parts of 
the country, of which the most notable was that to Boston 
in 1883, when Osgood published his poems--an enterprise 
from which the attorney- general of the state soon dissuad- 
ed the Boston publisher. 

We will not attempt to follow the chronology of Walt 
Whitman's books, for they were gotten out so irregularly, 
so commonly without the imprimatur of well-known pub- 
lishing houses, that only one who has made a special study 
of the matter can pretend to know much about it, and there 
will not be attainable a complete Whitman bibliography un- 
til W. S. Kennedy's promised work shall appear. But 
"Leaves of Grass" has undergone several revisions, and 
without essential change has been much improved in move- 
ment and phrasing. The first important revision from 
1855 was in I860, the volume then produced by Thayer & 
Eldridge of Boston containing much additional matter, which 
however, gave him no additional fame. "Drum Taps," on 
the other hand, which he brought out shortly after the war, 
presented him in a new light, placing him at the front of all 
poets of that great time, by an embodiment of its spirit 
such as no other single poet has achieved. There was 
nothing in this book to revolt good people; nothing either 
to placate the critic punctilious for the old forms and the 
old ideas . Yet it made Whitman for the first time a do- 
mestic poet, appealing with intimate sympathy to the heart 
of the people, touching the patriotic ardor and the personal 
bereavement of the war, and all with a power that seems to 
us unmatchable. Noteworthy as the verse of "Drum Taps" 
was, it received in 1870 a complement as remarkable in 
the prose of 'Democratic Vistas," a book far too little read 
and considered, --profitable for every American citizen to 
read and consider. Together with full recognition of the 
glories of democracy marches the serious divination of its 
dangers, and it would be hard to find elsewhere in anything 
like the same brief space wisdom so closely compacted, 
warning so fervent and prophetic. 

In 1875, suffering from the grave derangements of 
health that followed the attack of paralysis, Walt Whitman 
collected all his writings and issued them the next year in 
two volumes, having them printed and bound at Camden 
under his own supervision. This was the "author's edi- 
tion" in a peculiar sense, and could only be obtained of 
the poet personally, for of the booksellers he had no bet- 
ter opinion than John Ruskin has . The volumes are rich 
in typographic as well as literary idiosyncrasies, and are 
bound in half -vellum . The poet was wont to keep a few 
sets in his house and to annotate them here and there as 
the humor seized him, so that many a purchaser has a 



unique memorial of the author to be prized accordingly. 
One volume was lettered "Leaves of Grass; Ed'n 1876," 
and this comprised the latest revision and rearrange- 
ment of the main poem "Walt Whitman," the "Children 
of Adam" and "Calamus," besides other cognate verse; 
"Drum Taps" and "Marches Now the War is Over" fol- 
lowed. The companion volume was entitled "Two Rivu- 
lets; Prose and Verse." In a preface Whitman presents 
his explanation and apologia for "Leaves of Grass," ex- 
pressing his great inclusive scheme of American humani- 
ty, --a scheme whose development he hardly foresaw when 
he wrote in 1855 

I, now thirty-six years old, in perfect health, begin, 
Hoping to cease not till death, — 

but which was plainly inevitable in the nature of things. 
In this maturer volume there is little or nothing of the 
physiology which affronts in its predecessor; it is the 
ripened fruit of a mastered art. His voice is nobler, 
deeper, richer in harmonies, and though never exceed- 
ing in power the best that went before, it owns a more 
sustained dignity and beauty. The stately ode "Eidolons," 
the mystic "Prayer of Columbus" here are found; the 
"Democratic Vistas," and "Memoranda During the War" 
are followed by "President Lincoln's Burial Hymn" and 
the exquisite dirge "O Captain! my Captain!" These Lin- 
coln poems, and the marvelous description of the mur- 
der of President Lincoln in the "Memoranda," are the 
only writings by which Whitman is truly popular. The 
picture of that terrible event is so vividly graphic that it 
is generally supposed the narrator was himself an eye- 
witness of the scene, notwithstanding his distinct state- 
ment that he was elsewhere, --he was in fact on that night 
visiting his mother on Long Island, and it was there that 
"lilacs in the dooryard bloomed," to forever associate 
their perfume in his mind (and in the minds of many of 
his readers) with the memory of Lincoln's death. Among 
the other contents of this volume are several of his oc- 
casional poems- -for Whitman had his share of such dis- 
tinctions. Here is the "Song of the Exposition," recited 
at the opening of the American institute exhibition at New 
York in 1871 — better known by its opening line, "After 
all, not to create only"; here is the "Song of the Univer- 
sal," the commencement poem at Tufts college in 1874; 
and far the finest, "As a strong bird on pinions free," 
the Dartmouth commencement poem in 1 872 . Here also 
are the magnificent "Passage to India," "The Mystic 
Trumpeter" and "Proud Music of the Storm." Altogether, 
a very important and interesting book. 

Since these volumes five others have appeared, the 
last only about eight months ago. The first was the Os- 
good publication of "Leaves of Grass " in 1 881 , which the 
Boston publisher abandoned under threat of the attorney- 
general of the state of prosecution for publishing obscene 
literature. There was an attempt made to prevent also 
the book's transmission through the mails, but fanaticism 
had no influence at the post-office department. A Phila- 
delphia publishing-house took up the task Osgood laid 
down, and Massachusetts enjoys the distinction, such as 
it is, of proscribing Whitman in a land whose publishers 
freely issue Swinburne, Dante Rossetti and other sala- 
cious or fleshly poets . The Philadelphia firm, Rees, 



108 
Welsh & Co., continue, we believe, to publish Whitman's 
"Leaves," and not long after its appearance added an in- 
teresting volume of prose notes, mainly of outdoor life, 
entitled "Specimen Days and Collect." While publishers 
were perhaps deterred chiefly by the ill complexion of the 
Adamic poems from accepting his first book, the real diffi- 
culty in the way of Whitman's market has been the unusual 
form of his work, in which the average reading public can- 
not be persuaded to delight. That the work has also un- 
usual power and significance does not avail in the face of 
that hard fact. 

Whitman had found the magazines seldom open to him. 
The Atlantic once, early in its existence, accepted one of 
his strange poems, "Elemental Drifts"; Harper's has used 
several, among them the "Prayer of Columbus." The Cen- 
tury has ventured on the experiment, but, as a rule, such 
convention-defying verse, no matter what thought it bears, 
is not wanted where the sonnetteers, the second-hand trou- 
badours and the rest of the cherry-stone carvers are wel- 
come. Of late, the newspapers have been favored with 
Whitman's contributions; the Critic has been distinguished 
by excellent little papers and poems by him; The Republi- 
can has been honored occasionally, and the New York Her- 
ald. He had written a good deal, as his strength allowed, 
in these his declining years, and in 1885 a farewell vol- 
ume, as he regarded it, "November Boughs," was issued. 
But his remarkable vitality deferred his real farewell yet 
longer, and in 1889 he issued "Sands at Seventy." Finally 
in 1891 came "Good-by My Fancy!" a volume of prose and 
verse which he described as "an annex to Leaves of Grass," 
and there remain a good many writings yet to gather to- 
gether, including the fine ode on "Death's Valley" in the 
April Harper's. 

"The good gray poet," however severely he has been 
treated in the past, --and not without reason either, as all 
but he and his foolish friends had to allow, --had rejoiced 
for some years in the enviable and constant friendship and 
esteem of men and women whose opinion is not lightly won, 
and had even conquered a certain vogue; so that could he 
have lived a dozen years more he would very likely have 
found himself the central figure among men of letters in 
this country. For some years his annual recitation of his 
description of Lincoln's death in New York and Philadel- 
phia has been an event of mark. He was quite a hero when 
he visited Boston and Concord in 1881, and saw Emerson 
again and F. B. Sanborn. Some time ago, by the way, Mr. 
Sanborn, writing to The Republican, described his first 
glimpse of Whitman. It was in 1860, when Sanborn was 
kidnaped by a United States marshal to be haled to Wash- 
ington on account of John Brown's raid, and was taken be- 
fore the Massachusetts supreme court on a writ of habeas 
corpus. Whitman was among the spectators, and Mr. San- 
born notes that he wore a loose jacket with open shirt col- 
lar, "over which poured the fullness of his beard, while 
his large and singular blue eyes under heavy arching 
brows wandered over the assembly, as some stately 
creature of the fields turns his eyes slowly about him in 
the presence of many men." This singularity of aspect 
and imposing air always characterized Whitman. He aged 
rapidly during the war and his light brown hair and beard 
grew quite gray before he was 50. Latterly they have be- 
come white, and he was one of our white-bearded patri- 
archs of literature, such as Longfellow and Bryant were, 



and as Stoddard is growing to be. He had attached to 
himself many warm personal friends, and impressed 
those who visited him as a rarely lovable and sweet na- 
tured old man. His life was simple and true, and his 
ardent illustration of that "love of comrades" which is 
a cardinal point of his creed, while he was 'the wound - 
dresser" of our suffering soldiers, was as beautiful as 
man could give. We may well believe that a good soul 
as well as a great poet has departed from us . 



(74) 
THE GENTUS AND SIGNIFICANCE OF WALT WHITMAN 

The obituaries of Whitman, the poet, remind us once 
more that the world never quite knows, until it is too 
late, what to do with a poet--that troublesome, unrestful 
member of the social body. It could find no place for 
Homer, who wandered about like a gipsy, and was prob- 
ably no more esteemed; it turned /Eschylus out into the 
fields where an eagle, mistaking him for a "solid man" 
of Syracuse, dropped a tortoise on his head; it banished 
Dante from Florence, and kept him roaming about Italy; 
it kept Shakespeare on the stage, making himself "a mot- 
ley to the view"; it came near imprisoning poor blind 
Milton, sent Tasso to a cell, Landor and Shelley into ex- 
ile; turned Burns into an exciseman, Freneau into a de- 
partment clerk; and when Whitman was in that humble 
position, turned him out as an indecent person. Even 
when it applauds and pays poets, as has been the case 
with Scott, Longfellow and Tennyson, it is apt to exact 
so much of them that their genius runs itself out. The 
true discipline for poets and other inebriates is yet to 
be discovered. 

Whitman may perhaps have received money enough 
for his books to support him five years out of the 73 that 
he lived; but he achieved fame out of all proportion to his 
income. After the publication of his first book in 1855, 
he could never be overlooked, though many excellent peo- 
ple tried hard to do it. An intelligent Englishman, writ- 
ing to Thoreau early in 1857, said of him: "Walt Whit- 
man's poems have only been heard of in England to be 
laughed at, and voted offensive. Here are 'Leaves' in- 
deed, which I can no more understand than the book of 
Enoch, or the inedited poems of Daniel. I cannot believe 
that such a man lives unless I actually touch him. He is 
further ahead of me in yonder West, than Buddha is be- 
hind me in the Orient. I find reality and beauty, mixed 
with not a little violence and coarseness, both of which 
are to me effeminate. The man appears to me not to 
know how to behave himself. I find the gentleman alto- 
gether left out of the book! These Leaves completely 
puzzle me. Is there actually such a man as Whitman? 
His is a tongue 'not understanded' of the English people. 
It is the first book I have ever seen which I should call 
'a new book, '--and thus would I sum up the impression 
it makes upon me." 

There was much confused insight in this early judg- 
ment passed upon the first of Whitman's volumes: much 
clear insight also in that famous judgment of Emerson's 
in 1855, greeting Whitman at the outset of a great career, 
which yet, said Emerson, must have had a long past be- 
hind it. Whitman's must indeed be called a great career, 



109 



from the impression he has made on his age, though he has 
had so little of the common literary success . There are 
persons that make such an impression, without in fact ac- 
complishing much that can afterwards be cited. Sir Philip 
Sidney was such, --the antipodes of Whitman in many ways 
--the gentleman certainly not left out in Sidney's case, -- 
yet sure to be remembered and cited for ages, from the 
personal effect he produced. Other examples will occur 
to the reader, but this is the most shining one. 

Yet even in literature Whitman has made his mark inef- 
faceable. A single poem determines the rank of poets, and 
Whitman's dirge for Abraham Lincoln shows him superior 
in the powers that constitute the poet to most of his con- 
temporaries. The management of those powers was wil- 
ful and oftentimes fatiguing; but their existence will not be 
denied hereafter half so much as it has been denied in his 
lifetime. He was a superior person, not without vanity 
and other foibles, but one of whom America has a right to 
be proud, and for whom she will be duly grateful when the 
usual period of ingratitude towards poets has passed by. 

As a critic Whitman was searching, but not always ex- 
act, moved in his judgment by considerations sometimes 
trivial. His opinion of American poets, given in 1885, is 
an evidence of this. He said: "I am an admirer of Bryant, 
Emerson, Whittier and Longfellow- -in the order given. 
I would put Bryant first in many respects. For a long 
period I placed Emerson at the head of American poetic 
literature, but of late I consider Bryant worthy of the lead- 
ing place, on account of a certain native vitality and patri- 
otic character as well as an odor in his poetry as in the 
woods and by the seashore. Emerson's great points are 
intellectual freedom, perfect style, and real manliness; 
but the tendency of his writings is to refine and sharpen 
off till the points are lost. Whittier is fervid, rather 
grim, expressing a Quaker Puritan element in New Eng- 
land history that is precious; in his old age he is Inclined 
to get out of the narrow rut of Puritanic Quakerism . Long- 
fellow, as a poet of grace and sweetness and amiability, 
will always be welcome. Don't know that I have anything 
to say concerning the great brood of poets springing up . 
They often seem to me like the echoes of an echo." 

Well, most poetry is full of echoes and the best has the 
most of them; Whitman's own abounds in echoes, in spite 
of its newness and the contrived spontaneity of its metri- 
cal form . Emerson described it to me as "a mixture of 
the Bhagavad Gita and the New York Herald "- -that is, pro- 
found in its thought and sentiment, but often vulgarized in 
tone and expression, as that then "Satanic" newspaper 
was. In I860 Whitman described Emerson as "keen, 
physically and morally magnetic, armed at every point, 
and, when he chose, wielding the emotional just as well 
as the intellectual." That was good criticism; and so is 
the description which he gave of Emerson's manner at the 
conversation in my house in 1881, where, for the first and 
last time, Emerson, Alcott, Louisa Alcott and Whitman 
met together. Emerson, he said, was "a listener, and 
apparently an alert one, with the well-known expression 
of sweetness, and the old, clear-peering aspect quite the 
same." Seven months after this Emerson died. 

What Whitman could do in prose description may be 
seen in the little word -picture he made of the September 
haymakers under the side of Nashawtuc, as he saw them 
from my porch, across the Musketaquid. "The spread 



of emerald-green and brown, the knolls, the score or 
two of little haycocks dotting the meadow, the loaded-up 
wagon, the patient horses, the slow, strong action of the 
men and pitchforks, --all in the fast-waning afternoon, 
with patches of yellow sun- sheen, mottled by long shad- 
ows --a cricket shrilly chirping, herald of the dusk- -a 
boat with two figures noiselessly gliding along the little 
river, passing under the stone bridge-arch- -the slight 
settling haze of aerial moisture, the sky, and the peace- 
fulness expanding in all directions and overhead- -fill and 
soothe me." 

Here was the painter's and the poet's eye, taking in at 
a few glances the whole impression of the scene, so that 
it could be painted in due color from this short sketch 
alone. A very different picture that stream presents to- 
day, under a fierce March wind, like that which drove 
Thoreau's boat to Sudbury in 1856, as his poet -passenger 
described it: 

The wind was fair, yet was it terrible, 
As straightway to our pinnace we repaired, 
Securely anchored in transparent ice. 
And as we sailed yet fiercer blew the gale, 
Bending our tiny canvas, while the foam 
Leaped cheerily in front beneath the bows. 
Under full many a bridge we madly shot, 
Far o'er the billows of a chopping sea, 
Or, as the river winded, by the oars 
We urged the vessel forward on her course. 

Whitman was as fond in his day of the active, icy 
wind, as of the peaceful, rural quiet: his verses of the 
Civil War disclose his patriotic affections --perhaps the 
strongest part of his manly soul- -and he was ready to 
endure what might be needful to cleanse his country from 
its crimes. He could have said with his brother poet: 

Thou brave, stern wind of March ! O, purify 
This cankered land of its unnumbered taints, 
And waft us into ports where all is love. 

One of those ports Whitman has found at last, no 
doubt, after the long and much-becalmed voyage of these 
later years of illness. 

Concord, March 28. F. B. Sanborn. 



(75) 
TRANSCENDENTALISM: PARKER, 
AND CARLYLE 



EMERSON 



Among the books which Roberts brings out this spring 
there is an excellent volume of the early discourses of 
Theodore Parker, delivered in his small West Roxbury 
parish, mostly before he visited Europe in 1843-44. A 
few of them were written after his return, and bear wit- 
ness to his observations in Rome, in London and in Ger- 
many, which he did not again visit until 1859- -during his 
last illness- -for he died at Florence in May, 1860. Few 
of those who heard his aggressive and controversial ser- 
mons against slavery and false religions will fail to be 
surprised at the tender piety and poetic beauty of these 
youthful discourses, written before the stern battle of 



110 



his life began. He was one of the first readers of Emer- 
son's thin book of philosophy called "Nature," which was 
published in 1836, and fell at once into the hands of Car- 
lyle and of Parker. The latter valued it more highly, for 
it was too Platonic for Carlyle, who disliked both Plato and 
Socrates. How it colored Parker's sermons will be seen 
by a passage or two from one which he wrote in 1838, quot- 
ing freely from the original and the selected beauties of 
"Nature." Take this page, for example, where Emerson 
and his admired George Herbert color the whole thought 
and sentiment of the sermon: 

You will not envy the property of the wealthy, for you 
are richer than he if you can enjoy more of his posses- 
sions than he himself. "Give me health and a day," says 
one, "and I will make the pomp of emperors ridiculous." 

"For us the winds do blow, 

The earth doth rest, heaven move, and fountains 

flow. 
Nothing we see but means our good, 
As our delight or as our treasure; 
The whole is either our cupboard of food 
Or cabinet of pleasure . 

"More servants wait on man 

Than he'll take notice of; in every path 

He treads down that which doth befriend him, 

When sickness makes him pale and wan. 

O mighty love! Man is one world, and hath 

Another to attend him." 

But if a man is selfish and desires to exclude others he 
loses his own inheritance. He would enlarge, and he lim- 
its; he would debar others, and he shuts out himself. In- 
stead of rejoicing in all things, he takes no pleasure out of 
his own estates; his own possessions are barren, little and 
low, yet he counts them better than all the world besides. 
The true man has ownership of the sun; the selfish pos- 
sesses only his own candle. The true man sees a brother 
everywhere, though in rags; but the selfish has no kindred 
out of his own class. He was born the heir of all, but he 
has sold his birthright. Not satisfied with just possessions 
in all, he would shut out others, and so he has lost the best 
of his patrimony. A miser was once offered his hands full 
of a precious liquid; to gain much, he opened wide his fin- 
gers and lost all. The world is full of such misers. . . . 
To possess the world we must be good. All things are 
yours, but only on the condition that you are not selfish, 
but wise and good also. A man always finds the world re- 
flects his own feelings . To a man in a happy frame of 
mind, the very heavens seem to laugh; all nature wears 
a smile. To a man in sorrow, all appears melancholy. 
If he is peevish, all things seem to conspire to vex him . 
Is he in deep affliction? His mind will hang the heavens 
in dim eclipse: 

"The clouds that gather round the setting sun 

Do take a sober coloring from an eye 

That hath kept watch o'er man's mortality." 

Nature and society always wear the colors of the spirit. 
"To a man laboring under a calamity, the heat of his own 
fire hath a sadness in it." 



From a sermon on "Tranquility," written in 1837, 
when Parker had been but two years out of the divinity 
school, I take this page, which may profitably be perused 
by Joseph Cook: 

There is a noisy way of seeking after truth by talking 
loudly about it and decrying those who think differently 
from one's self. To such seekers truth, which is of no 
sect or party, gives no answer, shrouding itself in dark- 
ness. Haste, violence, are utterly opposed to the calm, 
noiseless spirit of religion. True religion is always calm 
and gentle. One does not hear its voice obtrusive in the 
streets; the bruised reed it breaks not, so gentle is it; 
the smoking flax it doth not quench, so calm is its spirit 
of forbearance. In thinking upon religious concerns, let 
all haste and violence and impetuosity be laid aside; then, 
if at no other time, should men be calm. The Comforter 
who revealeth all needful things, the Spirit of truth, was 
likewise the Spirit of peace. The Spirit of God, giving 
power to his Son without measure, came down to the calm 
likeness of a dove, the symbol of tranquility. What a 
beautiful meaning is herein. It shows that the kingdom 
of heaven is not to be taken by violence, but by gentle- 
ness; only for composed souls can there be peace. Well 
is the highest object we seek called rest for our souls. 

It was a youthful fancy of Parker's to compose parables 
in the oriental manner, --sometimes taking for their nu- 
cleus a Jewish or Arabian allegory, but often inventing 
them himself or turning the words of scripture, with which 
no man was more familiar, into a parable. Gradually this 
habit disappeared as Parker grew more controversial, but 
from 1837 to 1846 these parables are frequent in his dis- 
courses, of which his executor has now in possession 
more than 900. Here is an example from the same dis- 
course on "Tranquility"; closing that sermon, indeed, as 
his fashion then was, with a parable or a poem: 

When the Ark had long floated upon the waters, and the 
deluge had finished the work of the Almighty, he called 
upon his angels to go down and cause the waters to abate 
from off the face of the earth, and the fair verdure to re- 
turn thereto. The angel of violence exclaimed, "Send me"; 
and all replied, "He is most fit for such a mission, de- 
manding a rude and fierce spirit." And so the angel of 
violence went down. He called together the winds to sweep 
the waters from the earth. The storm howled. Up rolled 
the frantic waters, in mad waves. Fitfully the storm- 
clouds rushed together. Lightning glared wildly, the deep 
thunder chiming awful in. But not a drop of water disap- 
peared; even the long- tried Ark had like to founder. Wea- 
ry with this confusion, the angel of violence soon went 
back; and the Almighty sent down the spirit of calmness. 
Slowly the angel came down on his dove-like pinions, the 
olive branch in his hand, love smiling out of his eyes, 
peace enlightening his face. At a single wave of his olive 
branch the storm lulled away into a low murmur of peace . 
The loud chiming of the waves became a gentle ripple. 
Softly the sun came forth; and on the bosom of the retreat- 
ing cloud shone the rainbow of promise, the fair token of 
hope, the emblem that tranquility shall ever prevail. 
The Ark rested, and the delivered came forth, singing, 
"Blessed be God, and the strong spirit of tranquility; the 
meekest is ever the mightiest." 



Ill 



Altruism did not begin with Howells or with Tolstoi, it 
was an essential feature of Transcendentalism, as we see 
by this page from a sermon of Parker's in 1838: 

All things belong to him who has a sense to perceive 
them and a human heart to feel , The rose in the garden 
wafts its fragrance to the boy in the street; it is as grate- 
ful to him as to the man in whose garden it grows , A con- 
tented heart is a continual feast. To him who possesses 
this and open senses to enjoy, all things belong. For him 
the merchant sends his ships afar; for him the artist toils 
with busy hand; for him avarice lays up its stores, and 
grandeur exhibits its magnificence; for him Jezebel tires 
her head, adorns her face and arrays her in jewels; for 
him are groves planted and fair houses built. The breath 
of morn, "the rising sweet with song of earliest bird," 
the crimson twilight, are his, and he enjoys them. The 
strength of noonday is his. The sober majesty of evening, 
the awful solemnity of night, all are his. Now, every man 
may possess all these treasures on one condition- -that he 
is not selfish. When he looks round on all these objects 
he may rejoice in them so long as he enjoys them without 
thinking of himself; but the moment he says, "This inch of 
ground is mine, but that large domain is my neighbor's, 
would that were mine also!" he has destroyed his enjoy- 
ment therein. He wishes to possess exclusively, and loses 
all which he really had . 

His Unitarian brethren broke with Parker on his tenden- 
cy to social reformation, his interpretation of miracles, 
and his view of the nature of Jesus Christ. Most of them 
have since come upon his ground in all these matters, and 
some have gone beyond him . What Parker held 50 years 
ago concerning the character and mission of Christ cannot 
fail to be interesting now. He believed in a special inter- 
position of God at the opening of the Christian era, and 
these were his words : 

A pious man feels God's presence everywhere. He 
cannot look, but each foot of space is a text, from which 
Nature preaches of him that is and shall be. He sees his 
works in all the events of human history, --at the death 
of a martyr; in the passage of a ship laden with holy men, 
over the wilderness of waters; in the discovery of each art 
and science; in all religious and moral reforms. There is 
a very evident action of the divine Providence that orders 
all. There was in this work of Jesus. The time and place, 
the circumstances and the men, --all mark this as one of 
the great works of Providence for men. Not as if God de- 
parted from his laws, --which it is almost impious to sup- 
pose he should ever do, --but by his laws he did the work. 

Why is it that the crucifixion of Christ is the great event 
in his life to so many men, the great event in the world's 
life? I think it must be sought in the character of the man, 
the circumstances of the case, and the consequences of the 
event. Here is the noblest of the sons of men, so pure that 
his accuser and judge said, "I find no fault in the man"; 
so religious and moral that to all of us, 18 centuries after 
his death, he stands as the ideal and archetype of religion, 
a complete man of faith and works, cut off by the very men 
he sought to save, cut off for his excellence, not for his 
want of it. He who had gone about doing good, a young 
man, whom fear could not dismay, nor wealth bribe, nor 



the devout respect felt for Moses and Elias turn from 
the path of duty, --this man, the bud and orient blossom 
of humanity, to be thus cut down! Here was purity so 
great that the next age worshiped him; spiritual power 
so vast and with so deep insight, a heart so loving, a life 
so fair, that the best portion of the race of men for 16 
centuries have counted him a god, yes, the very God; 
and it all falls at the hands of its foes. To step aside 
from the opinions so often formed of Jesus, --opinions 
for which the world has fought bitter wars, --let us con- 
template him freely as a man, tempted in all things like 
as we are, yet without sin, as the evangelists and apos- 
tles contemplated him. Look at the work he had under- 
taken to bring about the kingdom of God on earth, --that 
is, to break every yoke of superstition, folly, sin; to es- 
tablish the reign of peace, brotherhood, love; to make 
religion not a thing of temples and forms and ritual ob- 
servance, but a thing of daily life; to restore to man his 
rights and bring him to his true estate. Compare this to 
any reform of past time, and what a work was here, --a 
work with no bounds; a work undertaken by a Jewish car- 
penter who began when about 30 years old. 

This is practically the same view as that taken by Car- 
lyle, in his conversation with Emerson, as reported by 
the latter from his diary of 1834, in "English Traits," 
and Carlyle at the outset of his career in literature was 
a Transcendentalism as Emerson and Parker were. They 
did not borrow their ideas from him, as Gavan Duffy ab- 
surdly reports him as saying in 1849, but all three drew 
them from something anterior to Carlyle, who was eight 
years older than Emerson and 15 years older than Parker. 
Naturally, therefore, he had the first chance to say his 
say, and it helped both the younger men, but their view of 
the world did not originate with Carlyle nor follow his ir- 
regular development of it, which threw both Parker and 
Emerson strongly against Carlyle 's later political rhapso- 
dies. This separation was manifested as early as 1843, 
when Parker visited Carlyle in Chelsea. The lectures of 
Carlyle in 1838, now printed from notes taken at the time, 
throw much light on the wise and the unwise parts of the 
great Scotchman's nature, one of the marked features be- 
ing his dislike of Socrates and Plato, whom his friend Em- 
erson always admired, and whom Parker praised with 
some reservations. Carlyle, in these lectures, thinks 
Socrates a well-meaning but unprofitable sort of man- 
very much what he thought of Alcott, the Boston Socrates 
of 1842, when the two men met—and he hardly names 
Plato at all. In spite of this, and other crudenesses, the 
book of lectures is a very sharp and stimulating one, like 
all that Carlyle wrote. It is published by Charles Scrib- 
ner's Sons. 



(76) 
THE WORLDS OF WALT WHITMAN 
AND EDMUND WALLER 

The New York Nation had last week two articles spe- 
cially noteworthy, one on Carson's "History of the Su- 
preme Court," the other on Whitman the poet. Both of 
them (having perhaps no other point of resemblance) 
made me think of Waller, the English poet, who was the 



112 



antipodes of Whitman in almost every point, --very rich, 
while Whitman was poor; outwardly decorous though actu- 
ally dissolute, while Whitman with his freedom of speech 
was a modest liver; false to his friends at one period and 
another, while Whitman was stoutly loyal, --and so on. 
But it was the Nation's remarks about Taney's Dred Scott 
decision which made me think of Waller, --who like other 
rich men in England, and many not so rich, opposed, as 
his cousin Hampden did, the ship-money decision of 1636, 
which was of the same nature then as the Dred Scott de- 
cision was in 1857. 

That is to say, neither of these famous judgments of high 
courts were rendered for any other reason than to comply 
with the men in power. Charles I. Strafford and Laud, 
and the small band of courtiers, bishops and friends of ar- 
bitrary power, obtained the ship-money decision against 
law and right and against the constitution. And the slave- 
masters of the South, acting through Buchanan and his 
cabinet, through pro slavery judges and senators and con- 
gressmen, forced upon the United States the Dred Scott de- 
cision against justice, against law, against humanity, and 
in the sole interest of negro-slavery, as the ship-money 
decision was in the sole interest of despotic power. 

One of the meanest of men, if his conduct be looked at 
in its moral aspects, Edmund Waller, was in his time, 
and for 100 years, the most admired poet and one of the 
favorite orators in Parliament. He made a speech in the 
Long Parliament impeaching Crawley, one of the 12 ship- 
money judges, July 6, 1641, in which occurs this passage, 
truly English in its tone, --for, with all his vices, Waller, 
the cousin of Hampden and Cromwell, was a true English- 
man : "In the Old Law they were forbid 'to seethe a kid in 
his mother's milk,' of which the received interpretation is 
that we should not use that to the destruction of any crea- 
ture which was intended for its preservation. Now God 
and Nature have given us the sea as our best guard against 
our enemies, and our ships as our greatest glory above 
other nations; and how barbarously would these men have 
let in the sea upon us, to wash away our liberties, --mak- 
ing the supply of our navy a pretence for the ruin of our 
nation!" 

In 1654, when Waller wrote his eulogy on Cromwell, he 
put this English maxim about the ocean into pleasing coup- 
lets, such as he was the first in England to frame: 

The sea's our own, and now all nations greet 
With bending sails all vessels of our fleet; 
Our power extends as far as winds can blow 
Or swelling sails around the globe may go. 

As Mr. Gosse points out, these couplets of Waller tend 
to arrange themselves in quatrains, differing chiefly from 
those of Davenant's "Gondibert" in that they do not rhyme 
alternately. Sir John Davies had used this long quatrain 
in Elizabeth's day; Dryden wrote his Annus Mirabilis in it, 
and Gray made it classical with his famous elegy; but it is 
now much out of fashion. 

Judge Taney and his associates, of evil fame, however 
great their legal learning was, also undertook to "seethe 
the kid in its mother's milk, "--or, in Waller's words, to 
use that for the destruction of our liberty which was meant 
for its preservation. The parallel is almost exact, and 
the discredit attaching to the judges in the two cases is 



much the same. The Nation declares that the five judges 
substantially said through Taney, "The States cannot leg- 
islate for the Territories, and the general government 
cannot legislate against slavery. We declare the people 
of the United States to be without power in this matter." 
"But this man (Crawley)," said Waller, "adding despair 
to our misery, tells us from the bench that ship-money 
was a right inherent in the Crown; that it would not be in 
the power of an act of parliament to take it away." 

The estimate of Whitman is an attempt to be just by a 
man who has a long standing prejudice, and of course is 
not very successful. "If I know myself," says the legend- 
ary Englishman, "I have not a single prejudice, but I do 
hate a Frenchman." Whitman early aroused in many a 
New England breast the same sort of justice which an 
Englishman is ready to render to a Frenchman, a feeling 
kindred to that with which most New Englanders of the 
learned class regard Thomas Jefferson. Not that there 
is any special resemblance between Jefferson and Whit- 
man, except that both proclaimed democracy, and took 
rather broader views of mankind than prevail in most 
New England parishes. This particular critic reveals 
himself by insulting phrases every now and then, -- 
"mouthing amplitude," " indolent desire," "curiously un- 
American," "unbounded self-indulgence," "expurgated 
and fumigated," and so on. 

There are many just things said, however, notwith- 
standing this perpetual disparagement, and the critic 
shrinks from his own comparisons, now and then, as 
when, having introduced Tupper, he said: "It would be 
a great mistake to class Whitman with Tupper." I am not 
sure that the comparison with Ossian is not a fair one for 
Whitman. The enthusiasm for Macpherson's paraphrases 
of the old Gaelic poetry has gone by: but something re- 
mains of that which attracted Goethe and Byron and Bona- 
parte. That something was the vast and vague suggestion 
which is so large an element in poetry, and always has 
been: which darkens and exalts the verse of ^schylus, 
raises and vivifies the petty themes of Pindar, gives a 
charm to the Norse sagas and the Nibelungen Lied, im- 
presses us in the Greek choruses and oracles and the 
fragments of Ennius, and redeems from grossness and 
barbarity much of the Elizabethan drama. To have caught 
the secret of this oracular power confers more distinction 
on a poet than to have polished empty verse to the last 
glitter, or adapted a new jingle to the tintinabula of me- 
tres. 

Our critic sums up finally his grudging estimate of the 
dead poet by saying: "He has phrase but not form, and 
without form there is no immortality." This is meant for 
a neat antithesis, but what in Whitman's volumes is more 
vague? What is meant by "form," and what by "phrase"? 
The metrical form of one language can hardly ever be 
rendered in another; all that we can get from Homer or 
Dante or Pindar or Victor Hugo is their "phrase." Yet 
we have no difficulty in recognizing Hebrew and Chinese, 
Arabian and Persian poets, as well as those of Greece 
and Italy and Germany . It will perhaps be found that 
Whitman, in his best passages, has a "form" of his own, 
permanent and generative of imitation. 

The "form " that gives immortality is treacherous; and 
here is what suggested Waller to me in reading this criti- 
cism. Waller did have "form, "--he invented, as we may 



113 



say, that measure which in Dryden, Pope and Goldsmith 
became so important. Atterbury said of him in 1690: "He 
was indeed the Parent of English Verse, and the first that 
showed us our tongue had beauty and Numbers in it; his 
name carries everything in it that's either great or grace- 
ful in Poetry." Yet who now reads Waller, except now and 
then for his ••phrase"? while those formless poets, Donne 
and Herbert and Vaughan, are cherished for their spirit, 
even more than for their phrase. 

"The form, the form alone is eloquent," 

says Tennyson of his heartless coquette; and something 
more than "form" is needed to carry a poet along even 
one century. 

Concord, April 13. F. B. Sanborn. 



(77) 

MEMORY AND IMAGINATION IN THE 

TRAINING OF HELEN KELLER 

The interesting story of Helen Keller has been made 
widely known through the newspapers and in other ways. 
But when some of her childish fancies had been written 
down by her and sent, two years ago, to Mr. Anagnos in 
Greece, they were so well expressed and so pleasing that 
he published them in the report of the blind school at South 
Boston, where she had been taught to speak, though deaf, 
dumb and blind when first received there. Afterwards it 
was discovered that the child's expressions and thoughts 
were largely those of Miss Margaret Canby of Wilmington, 
Del., who had published nearly 20 years ago stories of 
rose-fairies and frost-fairies, such as children delight in. 

So much are the men of this world given to evil speak- 
ing that when this unconscious plagiarism was discovered 
--poor Helen having forgotten the avenue by which these 
pretty fancies came into her opening mind--there arose a 
charge of fraud and bad faith, as if her teachers had sought 
to impose upon the world by exhibiting as her own what was 
the work of another. The "Volta Bureau" at Washington- - 
a publication office endowed by Prof. Graham Bell, the in- 
ventor of the telephone—having issued a stately folio about 
Helen Keller, its manager, Mr. John Hitz, undertook to 
trace out and explain the incident. 

It had been learned that some kind people on Cape Cod 
had read to Helen, when she was eight years old, some of 
the stories from Miss Canby's volume (published in Phila- 
delphia in 1873), although Helen herself had forgotten the 
reading. It was important to find Miss Canby, and in due 
time she was found to be living in Delaware. The case was 
put before her and she has written most generously con- 
cerning the singular incident, which she sees (as all must) 
was the absorption by an eager, childish mind, of the beau- 
tiful fancies designed by Miss Canby for the pleasure of 
the children about her. So complete was their reception, 
that Helen looked upon these stories as a dream which had 
come to her "a long time ago." Miss Canby's letter and a 
lovely poem to Helen which she has written this year are 
printed in a new edition of the folio just published by the 
Volta Bureau. 

Read Tennyson's "Ode to Memory" and his "Recollec- 
tions of the Arabian Nights," and you will see the golden 



mystery of childish memory explained or illustrated-- 
that blending of recollection and imagination which is 
universal with children and poets . 

When the breeze of a joyful dawn blows free 
In the silken sail of infancy, 
The tide of time flows back with me, -- 
The forward-flowing tide of time. 

Strengthen me, enlighten me! 
I faint in this obscurity, 
Thou dewy dawn of memory. 

The cope 
Of the half attained futurity 
Though deep, not fathomless, 
Was cloven with the million stars that tremble 
O'er the deep mind of dauntless infancy . 

This last passage, and especially the last line, was 
cited to me in 1856 by Mr. Emerson as one of the best 
that Tennyson had then written. The whole poem points 
out, as only poets can, the undefined border-land between 
fact and fiction, between memory and imagination which 
is so frequently visited by children and poets. The ar- 
rested development of Helen Keller's mind, which blind- 
ness and deafness occasioned, gave her at the age of 8 
or 10 the same fervor of imagination, the same uncer- 
tainty as to what she remembered and what she fancied, 
which usually befalls children of three and four years old. 

The sequel shows how much handsomer it is to be gen- 
erous than to be mean and suspicious. I have seen few 
things lately more pleasing or more touching than this 
addition to the story of the deaf girl, which was suffi- 
ciently pathetic before. The Pharisees are not extinct, 
by any manner of means, but neither Miss Canby nor 
Prof. Bell, nor Mr. Hitz belongs to that sect. There was 
once brought unto Jesus a blind and dumb person; "and he 
healed him, insomuch that the blind and dumb both spake 
and saw: But when the Pharisees heard it, they said"-- 
something even more unhandsome than has been said 
about Helen Keller and her teachers . But so far as I 
can hear, the Pharisees of the first Christian century 
have now very few friends. 

To speak of articulation- -as carried on at the public 
expense in Massachusetts and many other States, in all 
Europe, with a few national exceptions, and even in Spain, 
where it was introduced by learned Christian men 300 
years ago- -as if it were a mere "accomplishment," is to 
read the history of education backward, and to ignore the 
whole trend of things in America since 1867. There are 
still persons in Boston and within its easy range who are 
properly called "deaf mutes"; but they are a decreasing 
class, and it is not expedient to increase them. What- 
ever restores them to their own families, their own 
churches, and to the general life of the community is 
for their advantage and for that of others. The schools 
of articulation do this, --the language of signs, though 
still necessary in many cases, is apt to do the contrary. 
Nor is any man wise who attempts to revive in Boston the 
controversy on this subject which was waged here in the 
days of Horace Mann and Dr. Howe, it has been settled 



114 



practically by the legislation and the educational admin- 
istration of Massachusetts for the past 20 years. 

Within that period, also, the kingdom of Italy and 
the French republic have exchanged the sign system of 
De 1 'Epee and Sicard for the oral system of Germany and 
Switzerland, or for a combination of the two, which guar- 
antees to parents the inestimable privilege of retaining 
the speech of their deaf children. However unmelodious 
this may be, it is sweet music to a mother's ear--its ele- 
ments are those of all thorough education; and now that 
teaching by articulation has been made known through its 
merits it is not likely to be abandoned anywhere --least 
of all in the city where Laura Bridgman and Helen Keller 
have been educated. 

Concord, April 16. F. B. Sanborn. 



(78) 

THOREAU AND THE POET-NATURALISTS 

OF SALEM 

Our Protestant monks are apt to be naturalists like Tho- 
reau, although all students of nature do not avoid matri- 
mony so carefully as he did. Here were two friends in Sa- 
lem, for instance, --George J. Breed and William G. Bar- 
ton- -whose papers have been edited by W. P. Andrews, 
the editor of James Very; one of them was married and the 
other single. Both were poets and observers of nature, but 
Mr. Breed was also a musician, while Mr. Barton wrote 
admirable prose descriptions of birds and beasts and scen- 
ery, and had some insight as a critic. Both are dead. Mr. 
Barton before he reached the age of 40, --Mr. Breed, ap- 
parently older, though he died in 1885, five years earlier 
than Mr. Barton. The survivor published the verses of his 
friend in the Salem newspapers, and now Mr. Andrews has 
included them in a volume with the prose and verse of Mr. 
Barton. "Songs and Saunterings by a Poet and Naturalist" 
is the title of the collection, which opens with an essay on 
Thoreau, Burroughs and Wilson Flagg by Mr. Barton, and 
closes (except two stanzas by Mr. Breed) with an obituary 
notice of the poet by the naturalist. The tone of the two 
friends is noticeably different- -that of the naturalist being 
cheerful and amiable, while that of the poet is sad and a 
little distant, as of a person who had not found in life what 
he was compelled to seek for. Perhaps the most concise 
expression of his common mood, as shown in these verses, 
is in this stanza written for an air of Mozart: 

Soon shalt thou, in dust reposing, 
Find that peace denied thee here, 

Rest, no voice of earth opposing 
Sleep, that knows no bitter fear. 

It was well to begin such a volume (after the brief and 
pleasing introduction by Mr. Andrews) with a chapter on 
Thoreau, who is the head of this school of writers in Amer- 
ica, now so numerous. Wilson Flagg, who is coupled here 
with Thoreau and his disciple, John Burroughs, in fact be- 
longs to an older school, more diffuse and dull, so that 
Thoreau once said of him that he needed stirring up with a 
pole--which I fear Mr. Flagg never forgave. Mr. Barton 
was evidently influenced and fashioned by Thoreau in his 
turn of mind, but not so much in his style, which is fresh 



and good, perhaps a little too conscious, --but without 
the weight and penetration of Thoreau's best writing, -- 
than which there is hardly anything better in English of 
its kind. Had Mr. Barton lived longer and read Thoreau 
more, he would have revised his judgment of him in some 
points; yet Thoreau, least of all men, asks for investiga- 
tion of judgment in his case. He was his own most un- 
sparing critic though he could not escape his own manner- 
isms. There is something colloquial in Mr. Barton's re- 
lation of what he has seen, heard, felt and even smelt, -- 
for he does not scorn to speak of odors . The difference 
between the magisterial and the colloquial is one of the 
great distinctions between Thoreau and his Salem disci- 
ple, --for there was in the Concord author that easy mas- 
tery of his thought which betokens the superior mind. 
But the reader can learn much from this colloquy with 
Mr. Barton, with every now and then a poem thrown in, 
as at the evening party the music is heard by intervals . 
Henry Berlepsch, who described the Rhaetian Alps and 
their inhabitants, said of the Grisonese in those valleys 
of the farther Rhine: "They have the strict optimistic 
ideas so often found rooted in the minds of the unintelli- 
gent." That is the way the children of this generation 
talk, from Tolstoi to Pierre Loti, --and they are doubt- 
less wiser than the children of light. But Mr. Barton, 
like Thoreau, was among the children of light, and now, 
I am sure, he knows the reason why. The volume is ele- 
gantly printed by the Salem Press company. 



(79) 
A FURTHER TRIBUTE TO DR. PLINY EARLE 

The tributes, and especially yours, to Dr. Earle's 
character and achievement have been ample and sincere; 
but something should be said of the relative rank which 
he held among his countrymen during the long life now so 
suddenly closed. It would be a mistake to class him sim- 
ply with those specialists with whom he had been associat- 
ed for more than half a century, and to compare him with 
individuals such as Dr. Ray, Dr. Butler, Dr. Bell and 
Dr. Kirkbride. In some respects these accomplished men 
equaled or surpassed Dr. Earle; but his distinction, like 
that of Charles Sumner, of Horace Mann, of Dr. Howe, 
and some others of the remarkable group of New England 
men to which he belonged, was this, --that he early saw 
and studiously followed, both with theory and practice, 
the real situation concerning the subject to which he de- 
voted his great special attainments. I think it will be 
difficult to find in the copious writings of Dr. Earle any 
encouragement for those delusions which have from time 
to time prevailed respecting the disease of insanity, its 
curability, its treatment, and the relation of the public 
thereto. He had qualified himself by residence and ob- 
servation in Europe, about the time that Sumner was do- 
ing the same thing, to understand from the wider experi- 
ence which Europe then furnished, what would be the fu- 
ture exigencies of America in his own specialty. I have 
always regarded these years of study and travel as fit- 
ting him, above all his contemporaries, to take a broad 
and safe view of a subject then very imperfectly known in 
the United States: and when this led him in later years, 
against the traditions of his professional associates, to 



115 



declare that insanity was among the least curable of hu- 
man ailments, instead of being, as enthusiasts had de- 
clared, easily curable, he had a foundation of observation 
and reading which made him quite indifferent to the early 
outcry against his unacceptable demonstration, uttered by 
learned specialists who had not themselves investigated 
rationally and thoroughly. 

So, too, with regard to the form of establishment in 
which insanity can best be treated. Dr. Earle never fell 
into that convenient error of his associates which led them 
to maintain that insane persons can be cared for properly 
in huge caravansaries, where all individuality is lost and 
where medical skill and moral treatment become equally 
unavailing, since they are neutralized by the unfavorable 
influences—material, mental and spiritual- -which inevi- 
tably occur in these great aggregations of morbid human- 
ity, subjected to mechanical management, and deprived 
of those natural conditions of human society that have so 
much to do with the restoration of alienated minds. He 
resisted, at the risk of much censure from those whose 
opinion he valued, the erection in Massachusetts of palace- 
hospitals like that in Danvers; and he never gave the weight 
of his support to the unwise scheme now under considera- 
tion, of herding the insane poor in overgrown asylums like 
that proposed at Medfield. On the contrary, he advocated 
small asylums, individual care, and—although he came 
slowly to this last opinion- -the reception of the chronic 
insane into private families, instead of sending them to 
almshouses or asylum -prisons. 

No one will now question that Dr. Earle had mastered 
the literature of insanity more completely than any Amer- 
ican who has written on that subject. He began his re- 
searches before he was of age, and he continued them al- 
most to the day of his death. His own last contribution to 
this literature was an article on the curability of the in- 
sane, furnished by him in 1891 to Dr. Tuke's "Dictionary 
of Psychological Medicine," of which he showed me the 
proof-sheets when I last visited him in March, 1892. He 
has made arrangement for the publication by his executors 
of some portion of his writings; and it cannot be doubted 
that these will be an important part of what America has 
contributed to a knowledge of insanity. With the later in- 
quiries into the morbid pathology of the brain he had little 
to do, and perhaps did not attach to them all the value they 
deserve. But no man was more ready than he to accept 
what was demonstrated; and few scientific men have had 
so little of that engrossing spirit which leads them to claim 
for themselves the merit of discoveries and the monopoly 
of authority. His early training and consistent practice 
in the peaceful and modest tenets of the Society of Friends 
no doubt guarded him against some vain controversies and 
some immoderate ambitions. He followed humbly and sa- 
credly the Inner Light, with very little desire to set up his 
own enlightenment as the limit for all other men. Few per- 
sons of my acquaintance can leave a more enviable reputa- 
tion. F. B. S. 

Concord, Mass., May 18, 1892. 



(80) 
SOME MEMORIES OF EMERSON 

The forthcoming new volume of Emerson is to be wel- 
comed—even though it should be mainly index— for few 



things are more needed than a concordance or index of 
Emerson. All his speeches ought to be carefully pre- 
served, and his table-talk, in which he was as good as 
Johnson and rose many degrees higher. I remember one 
of his last speeches, --when at the Harvard commence- 
ment dinner of 1873 he was expected to say something of 
his recent journey in Egypt. He was called up by Judge 
Hoar with felicitous reference to his own lines: 

And morning opes with haste her lids, 
To gaze upon the Pyramids . 

and with a quotation from Milton: 

Nor is Osiris seen 
In Memphian grove or green, 
Trampling the unshowered grass with lowings loud. 

In response Mr. Emerson quoted the proverb: "He 
that has once drank of the waters of the Nile cannot rest 
till he has tasted them once more," and said that when 
he was somewhat rudely turned out of the house (by fire 
in 1872) and urged by his friends to go abroad, he could 
not rest in his journeyings until he had seen the Pharos 
of Alexandria and sailed on the sacred Nile. He remem- 
bered what the Hebrew prophet had said: "The strength 
of the Egyptians is to sit still, "--they have no ships, they 
do not sail, they do not travel, and since they will not 
come to us, we must go to them. He sailed up the Nile 
for hundreds of miles and saw that Egypt was a mere rib- 
bon of fertile land on the banks of the stream; if it has no 
rain, it needs none, for the gracious bounty of the river 
supplies its wants. There was something very attractive 
in this silent land which had drawn thither Pythagoras, 
Herodotus, Plato and Alexander, and led the younger 
Platonists to establish their famous school of philosophy 
there with Plotinus and Synesius for its interpreters. In 
ancient times men had gone to visit the tomb of "him that 
is buried in Phile," that is, of Osiris, of "him that lives 
in Phile"; and Mr. Emerson hinted that Osiris is still a 
potent divinity. He found Egypt a safe and well-governed 
country, and one in which it was a pleasure to travel; he 
had seen the crocodiles of the Nile or, to be more exact, 
only a single crocodile. Nor did he attempt to visit the 
sources of the stream, remembering the line of Lucan, 
Nee licuit populis parvum te Nile videre . 

Mr. Emerson and his friends were fond of that pleas- 
ing Chinese novel, "The Two Fair Cousins," which Goethe 
read in Abel Remusat's version, and Carlyle and Emer- 
son in that of a nameless English translator. The story 
opens with an account of the magistrate Pe, who, in con- 
sequence of the usurpations of the eunuch Wangtchin, had 
retired from the court of the emperor to his native coun- 
try. "Averse from the world and its business he led a 
retired life in a village called Kinchi, 18 miles from the 
city. This village was protected on every side by verdant 
rising grounds, and from east to west it was traversed by 
a winding stream, whose banks were adorned with the wil- 
low and the peach-tree. Here were seen united in happy 
effect the beauties of water and mountain scenery." We 
used to fancy a resemblance to Concord in this landscape. 
The date of the novel is not known, but upward of 300 
years; for two centuries a copy of it has existed in the 
Bibliotheque du Rio at Paris. Sir George Staunton in 



116 



1821 published in English an abstract of the first four chap- 
ters, and announced M. Remusat's translation as in prog- 
ress. It appeared in French in 1826. 

Long before that Remusat, who was a close reader of 
Walter Scott, had written to a friend: "There exists an- 
other Chinese romance, more charming still than the 
'Fortunate Union '--a picture of manners which I can only 
compare to those in which Miss Burney and Walter Scott 
have striven to paint the life and customs of their country- 
men in the middle class. I have translated this romance, 
but can't make up my mind to print it. Would you advise 
me to publish a book entitled 'Iu Kiao-Li,' and whose two 
heroines are named Houngiu and Lo Mengli? At first 
glance I fear such names would frighten the reader of the 
tales of Jedediah Cleishbotham, schoolmaster of Gander- 
cleugh, and Capt. Clutterbuck of Kennaquhair." 

There are two heroines, both of whom marry the hero; 
they are cousins, and one of them, Pe's daughter, Houngiu 
(Red Jasper), is thus described: "Nature had endowed this 
child with extraordinary beauty; her eyebrows resembled 
the leaf of the willow in spring, and her eyes were like the 
crystal of the autumnal fountains. But she was more hap- 
pily gifted with the qualities of the mind . One might al- 
most imagine that she was formed of the purest atmos- 
phere of the mountains and rivers, for nowhere could one 
believe that her equal was to be found. Possessed of as 
much intelligence and acuteness as of beauty, she had 
scarcely arrived at her 14th or 15th year when she was 
already thoroughly conversant with books, and was even 
able to compose some herself. We have said that the only 
pleasures that Pe enjoyed were derived from wine and po- 
etry. He every day amused himself with writing verses. 
Houngiu thus acquired the art of versification, and very 
soon excelled in it." 

The other heroine, Lo Mengli, in disguise of a youth, 
thus dawns upon the hero, Sse Youpe: "The door opened, 
and there appeared a youth who might be about 15 or 16 
years of age; he wore on his head a light cap, and his 
clothes were of a violet color. His rosy lips, sparkling 
white teeth, brilliant eyes and finely marked eyebrows 
made him look like a charming girl; it might be truly said 



(81) 
CONWAY'S LIFE OF THOMAS PAINE 

Moncure D. Conway has been slow in bringing out his 
long-promised and elaborate biography of his favorite hero 
of so many years- -Thomas Paine, the heartiest English 
promoter of American independence; but this delay has 
been used to good purpose. As in case of Edmund Ran- 
dolph, whom Mr. Conway has also restored to something 
like his proper hue, from the blackening which prejudice 
had inflicted, this generous restorer of historical por- 
traits goes a little too far, omitting some shadow which 
truth requires, --but the lack will be duly supplied by the 
numerous and still prejudiced party that originally dark- 
ened the picture. And it is a real service to history, 
whether in America, France, or England, to gather up 
and present in such a readable form so much material 
for judging, not Paine alone, but his earlier biographers, 



and the partisan writers who took so much pains to make 
our countrymen forget--what Washington, Franklin and 
Jefferson were always ready to recall with praise--Paine*s 
service to the cause of American freedom, in "the times 
that tried men's souls," for which Paine himself furnished 
this apt descriptive phrase. It was just before the battle 
of Trenton, when all was dark in the campaign of Wash- 
ington, that Paine wrote and printed that number of his 
"Crisis" which begins with these now proverbial words, 
and it was Paine who made them proverbial, as he also 
gave currency to many other thoughts and phrases that 
have passed into the world's common stock. Without be- 
ing one of those profound thinkers whose ideas put the 
world on a new track and held it there, he had in large 
measure the insight of political genius, and that common 
sense which is very uncommon. But this excellent quality 
(due to his English birth and breeding), though almost al- 
ways present in his writings, was almost equally absent 
from the management of his life, so that to him, much 
more than to Charles II, is applicable the remark- -"He 
never said a foolish thing, and never did a wise one." 

Paine was born at English Thetford, in Norfolk, which 
Mr. Conway describes pleasantly, though dwelling rather 
too persistently on the fancy that Paine's Quaker parentage 
made him a Quaker, --of which there is not much proof. 
There were many other sources in that philanthropic age 
--between 1737 and 1774, when Paine left England--in 
which he could have acquired the taste for beneficence 
that marked his entire career, --and religious exercises 
in any form do not seem to have had more place in his 
life than in those of his eminent friends and patrons, 
Franklin and Jefferson. He was seldom irreligious- - 
whatever bigots may say to the contrary- -but he did not 
fully appreciate (any more than his biographer) the great 
share that religion holds and must hold in the thought of 
mankind. Reverence was but slightly infused into the 
bright mass of his being; he was born for a writer, not 
for a saint, and for a writer of popular influence, rather 
than for permanent fame . Yet among writers of that 
brilliant prose century, few excel him in the directness 
of his style or the effectiveness of his reasoning. Burke 
has a greater name, and with reason, for Burke had that 
Irish eloquence and that elevation of sentiment which car- 
ry fame with them; but Burke, for all his better educa- 
tion and his social advantages, found Paine more than a 
match for himself in reasoning, and that direct appeal to 
the primary sentiments of mankind which is the forte of 
good political leaders. 

Political sagacity, indeed, was Paine's strong point 
until the ferment of the French Revolution, acting on the 
latent vanity of his nature, disturbed its balance, and 
brought on those extravagances which estranged so many 
of his friends, and gave opportunity to doubting or hostile 
persons to cry out scandalously against him. This sa- 
gacity appears very striking in a letter from Paine to 
Washington (September 7, 1782), in which he comments 
on a trait of the English, perhaps never before noticed: 

The spirit of the war, on the part of the enemy, is 
certainly on the decline. The British have accustomed 
themselves to think of seven years in a manner different 
to other portions of time . They acquire this partly by 
habit, by reason, by religion, and by superstition. They 



117 



serve seven years' apprenticeship, --they elect their Parlia- 
ments for seven years, --they punish by seven years' trans- 
portation, or the duplicate or triplicate of that term, --they 
let their leases in that manner, — and thus this particular 
period of time, by a variety of concurrences, has obtained 
an influence on their mind. They have now had seven years 
of war and are no farther on than when they began. The su- 
perstitious and populous part will therefore conclude that 
it is not to be; and the rational part of them will think they 
have tried an unsuccessful and expensive experiment long 
enough, and by the two joining in the same eventual opin- 
ion, the obstinate part among them will be beaten out. 

To this Washington replied, "Your observations on the 
period of seven years, as it applies itself to and affects 
British minds, are ingenious, and I wish it may not fail of 
its effects in the present instance." Washington, indeed, 
in spite of an occasional "little dig" at him by Mr. Conway, 
appears to great advantage in his relations with Paine, and 
especially in the letter he wrote to the impoverished author 
when, as Mr. Conway says, they were "great Washington 
and poor Paine." From his festive house at Rocky Hill, 
after peace was assured, the General wrote to the pam- 
phleteer (September 10, 1783): 

I have learned since I have been at this place that you 
are at Bordentown; whether for the sake of retirement or 
economy, I know not. Be it for either, or for both, or 
whatever it may, if you will come to this place, and par- 
take with me, I shall be exceedingly happy to see you. 
Your presence may remind Congress of your past services 
to this country, and if it is in my power to impress them, 
command my best services with freedom, as they will be 
rendered cheerfully by one who entertains a lively sense 
of the importance of your works, and who, with much 
pleasure, subscribes himself. 

Your sincere friend, G. Washington. 

The close of the first volume, which alone we have un- 
der notice, leaves Paine in the French convention, at the 
hight of his fame and influence, --with America and all Eu- 
rope looking to see what will happen next to this English 
revolutionist, playing so conspicuous a part in the affairs 
of two hemispheres. He was then 55 years old, had ac- 
complished great things, and hoped for greater. But the 
rest of his life was a decline, if not an absolute failure; 
calling for generosity, such as Jefferson and some others 
showed him, but fastening on him an unfortunate reputa- 
tion, which his biographer, we fear, cannot wholly explain 
away. 



(82) 
ANTHONY RUPPAUNER, HARVARD CLASS OF 1855 

Dr. Antoine Ruppauner, who died in Concord on Satur- 
day, was a Swiss youth who, before 1853, when, I think, 
he came to America, had received a part of his education, 
and had borne arms in the last religious war which the 
cantons carried on against each other. Arriving here, he 
entered the class that graduated at Harvard College in 1855, 
among whose members was another Swiss youth, Alexander 
Agassiz, son of the great naturalist. Ruppauner studied 



hard, graduated well, and afterward studied medicine at 
the Harvard Medical School, which, in token of gratitude, 
he has now left a handsome legacy. He practised with 
success in New York, where for many years he has been 
well known. 

Failing in health this summer, after treatment in Pitts- 
burg, he left New York for Bar Harbor; but on the way 
stopped at a friend's house (that of Judge Keyes) in Con- 
cord, and, becoming much worse, could not be removed. 
Having no family in this country, he will be buried in Con- 
cord today. He spent his vacation often in his native 
Switzerland, which he remembered with the natural af- 
fection of his countrymen. In New York he was promi- 
nent in the Goethe Society, of which the poet Bryant was 
one of the founders and active members. Dr. Ruppauner 
was energetic, skilful, learned and companionable; of 
temper irritable, yet generous, and will be remembered 
with regret by his classmates and many friends. 

Concord, July 31 . F. B. Sanborn. 



MISS AUSTEN'S 



(83) 

"EMMA" AND 



•MANSFIELD PARK' 



The publication of a new edition of Miss Jane Austen's 
novels by Roberts Bros, in Boston this summer, is an 
event worth noticing, even in the flood of novels which 
now inundates both hemispheres, in all languages, and 
from every quarter of the globe. For this novelist of the 
early 19th century was one in a thousand, and can be read 
with pleasure by people of our own time, though her day 
and date have glided into "the dreadful past," which Tenny- 
son's Lotus-eaters so shuddered at. The past has no ter- 
rors for such as Jane Austen; she stands wrapt up in her 
own immortality, and defies the tooth of Time, as she 
could afford to disregard the sharp tooth of criticism in 
her own odd age, of short waists and big bonnets, of tight 
breeches and stately cravats. Her carpet novels, so full 
of all manner of petty incident and feminine detail, had 
the root of the matter in them; and though fashions have 
changed a hundred times since she began to write, in that 
little Hampshire parsonage of her father, while the first 
French revolution was running its wild course, her "Em- 
ma," her "Pride and Prejudice" and her "Mansfield Park" 
outlive all fashions, even that of French revolution, and 
perhaps give as much delight under Gladstone, as in the 
consulship of Percival or of the more brilliant Canning. 
She has not the faintest resemblance to Cleopatra, but, 
as was said of that daughter of Egypt: 

Age cannot wither her nor custom stale 
Her infinite variety. 

It is a variety, too, not like that of Plato or Dante or 
Goethe- -above the reach of the ordinary reader- -but close 
to the heads and the hands of all who have any taste for so- 
cial events, or the interchange of sentiment and thought, 
in the endless give and take of domestic life among the 
comfortable classes- -a section of the world's inhabitants 
by no means numerous in Miss Austen's life time--but 
which now has become widely inclusive in all parts of the 
English-speaking world. As Shakespeare wrote especial- 
ly for the men and women of power and passion- -yet with 



118 



such truth to nature that he is read with admiration by all 
--so Miss Austen, who was a sort of feminine and domestic 
Shakespeare can be admired far beyond the narrow circle 
for which she wrote, and which at first bought her books. 
She also is true to nature- -and if her canvas had been a 
little broader, her colors a little more charged with pas- 
sionate hues — she might have extended her fame over the 
world instead of having it confined chiefly to the language 
in which she wrote. It is true that she is sometimes tire- 
some in her minute and long-continued touches at the pic- 
ture which would be better painted if the artist had taken 
less pains; but that was the fashion of the day in water- 
color pieces, and of Turner, who afterwards gained a style 
so brilliant and broad . 

It is hard to say which is the best of these novels, but 
perhaps "Emma" may claim that distinction. In this ap- 
pears that admirably drawn character of Mr. Woodhouse, 
type and symbol of all valetudinarians, with "his habits of 
gentle selfishness and of never being able to suppose that 
other people could think differently from himself." Here 
also is the heroine herself—positive, spirited, handsome, 
kind-hearted — always intermeddling with the affairs of 
other people, and, of course, always getting into what 
Miss Austen calls "a scrape," but coming out all right and 
marrying the man foreordained to correct her errors and 
bring her to "the building in which N. takes M. for better 
or worse." Yet before this happy event, poor Emma had 
to endure tortures of self-reproach. "With insufferable 
vanity had she believed herself in the secret of everybody's 
feelings; with unpardonable arrogance proposed to arrange 
everybody's destiny. She was proved to be universally 
mistaken; and she had not quite done nothing, for she had 
done mischief." We follow the windings and results of this 
amiable delusion of an overconfident young 'female"--as 
Miss Austen sometimes calls human beings of her own 
sex- -with as much interest (but rather more amusement) 
as we follow the misguided King Lear through his senile 
dementia. It is this art of multum in parvo--of boiling up 
the little into the big- -in which Miss Austen excels nearly 
every writer: and even her little formalities, and her de- 
viations into slang- -slang now either forgotten, or exalted 
into good English- -are easily forgiven. 

"Mansfield Park" is a different book, and in its catas- 
trophe approaches as near tragedy as Miss Austen ever al- 
lows herself to come. That Julia Bertram, the daughter of 
the dignified and irreproachable Sir Thomas, should run 
off after her marriage, with the fascinating but unprinci- 
pled Mr. Crawford, is truly painful. The way this was 
announced in the newspaper may be quoted: 

With infinite concern, we have to inform the world of a 
matrimonial fracas in the family of Mr. R. , of Wimpole 
street; the beautiful Mrs. R., whose name has not long 
been enrolled in the lists of Hymen, and who had promised 
to become so brilliant a leader in the fashionable world, 
having quitted her husband's roof in company with the well 
known and captivating Mr. C. , the intimate friend and as- 
sociate of Mr. R. , and it is not known, even to the editor 
of the newspaper, whither they are gone. 

It would strike us as odd that persons so irreproachable in 
morals and manners as the gentle folks that Miss Austen 
brings forward should plunge so abruptly into elopements 



and seductions, if we did not know that this is the English 
habit, --never more singularly illustrated, perhaps, than 
in the case of Mr. Lewes and Miss Evans. In this, as in 
everything else, Miss Austen is peculiarly true to human 
nature in England, --a variety of the general human nature 
which is perhaps better understood in this country than 
even in England. 



(84) 
PLATO AND EMERSON AGAINST MATERIALISM 

All the shows of this earth, according to Plato, "dark- 
en rather than enlighten" their reader. Good old Ralph 
Cudworth, a contemporary of Pictet, but not so averse to 
Grecian philosophy as the Genevans then were, wrote this 
paraphrase and comment on a well known passage in the 
Republic. "Plato, in his Subterranean Cave, so famously 
known and so elegantly described by him, supposes men 
tied with their backs towards the light, placed at a great 
distance from them, so that they could not turn about 
their heads to it neither; and therefore could see nothing 
but the shadows of certain substances behind them pro- 
jected from it, which shadows they concluded to be the 
only substance and realities. And when they heard the 
sound made by those bodies which were betwixt the light 
and them, or their reverberated echoes, they imputed 
them to those shadows which they saw. All this is a de- 
scription of the state of those men who take the body to 
be the only real and substantial thing in the world, and to 
do all that is done in it; and therefore often impute sense, 
reason and understanding to nothing but blood and brains 
in us." 

This is heresy worse than Aristotle's, --this material- 
ism, to which Aristotle gave some countenance, and which 
the men of modern science, voluntarily or involuntarily, 
are apt to propagate. It was the function of the New Eng- 
land Transcendentalists, beginning with Jonathan Edwards, 
--who, like Moliere's Frenchman, talking prose all his 
life without knowing it (as most French poets do), was a 
Transcendentalist unawares, --to recall men from this 
dungeon of materialism. Particularly Emerson and Al- 
cott exercised this high office- -Alcott first, being as Em- 
erson called him "a ray of the oldest light," but Emerson 
more persuasively and effectively. A minor poet, writ- 
ing of Emerson after his death, thus applied to him Plato's 
apologue in the seventh book of the Republic . 

His was the task and his the lordly gift 

Our eyes, our hearts, bent earthward, to uplift; 

He found us chained in Plato's fabled cave, 

Our faces long averted from the blaze 

Of Heaven's broad light, and idly turned to gaze 

On shadows, flitting ceaseless as the wave 

That dashes ever idly on some isle enchanted: 

By shadows haunted 

We sat, amused in youth, in manhood daunted. 

In vacant age forlorn, --then slipped within the 

grave, 
The same dull chain still clasped around our 

shroud; 
These captives, bound and bowed, 
He from their dungeon like that angel led 



119 



Who softly to imprisoned Peter said, 
"Arise up quickly! gird thyself and flee!" 
We wist not whose the thrilling voice, we knew 
our souls were free. 



Concord Aug. 23. 



(85) 
ALCCTT AND SOCRATES— 



F. B. Sanborn. 



A COMPARISON 



Our Social Science meetings remind me a little of Tran- 
scendentalist times, in the midst of which I have been late- 
ly writing biography. The Advertiser, 50 years ago, in its 
report of a Bible convention at the Chardon Street chapel 
(where Come-outers, Christians, Jews, Mormons and phi- 
losophers all met together to discuss the place and function 
of Hebrew and Christian Scriptures in the 19th century), 
gave a fair nnd pleasing account of Mr. Alcott's power as 
a speaker, --of which the present generation know very lit- 
tle, by hearing; for it is now 10 years since that melodious 
voice ceased to be heard in public. The praise of this news- 
paper was the more noticeable in October, 1841, because 
it had attacked Alcott sharply five years earlier (March, 
1837); when his book, "Conversations on the Gospel," came 
out, and was so unfavorably noticed in the newspapers that 
the sale was stopped, the school in which the conversations 
were held soon failed, and its costly library and furniture 
were sold under the hammer. 

While this was going on in the little Boston of 1 837, 
. young Bostonian, afterward famous, James Freeman 
Clarke, was preaching in Kentucky and editing a small 
magazine, "The Western Messenger," at Cincinnati. In 
its pages there soon appeared a sly suggestion from Mr. 
Clarke, to the effect that Boston, the modern Athens, was 
treating Alcott as the elder Athens had treated Socrates; — 
for J. T. Buckingham, editor of the Courier, had even pro- 
posed that the unpopular teacher should be sent to prison, 
as Socrates was. This did not occur; although he was sent 
to Coventry with all the force that Boston society could com- 
mand. The same course was taken with Charles Sumner a 
decade later, --while Garrison, less than two years before, 
had actually been committed to a Boston prison—to protect 
him, it was claimed, from a dangerous mob. Such was the 
Boston of the first half of the century. 

But here is Mr. Clarke's suggestion: "We perceive the 
Boston Courier recommends that Mr. Alcott be presented 
to the grand jury on account of his book. We respectfully 
suggest, in addition, that the indictment be in the words 
of that formerly found against Socrates. In Xenophon's 
Memorabilia it runs thus: 'Socrates is accused of not be- 
lieving in the same gods in which the city believes--but 
introducing other new divinities; he is also accused of cor- 
rupting the minds of the young.' The two cases would then 
be exactly parallel. Or perhaps, the form given by Plato 
would be thought more suitable. 'Socrates is accused of 
searching out things under the earth, and above the heav- 
ens; of making the worse appear the better reason, and of 
teaching others the same.'" Indeed the parallel was a very 
close one, --for Alcott resembled Socrates far more than 
Boston resembled Athens. 

And now for The Advertiser's report of 1841. "There 
were one or two very able addresses. A most impressive 



and happy one, from A. Bronson Alcott, exhibiting his 
peculiar sentiments, and explaining his Transcendental 
doctrines, as far as could be done (for he admitted they 
could not be explained by words), --was listened to with 
great attention. We very much regret that it was not 
taken down in shorthand, word for word; for we are sat- 
isfied that the speaker, by his utmost efforts, could nev- 
er, in his closet, commit to paper anything equal to it. 
Everything was methodical, clear, and explicit; not a 
word misplaced, or superfluous, or equivocal; all in ex- 
cellent taste, delivered calmly and distinctly, and with 
the utmost modesty and candor." 

This from the mouth of an enemy was high praise and 
well deserved . Our newspaper went on: "We have never 
heard any exposition of the Transcendental doctrines so 
intelligently made, or placed in so favorable an aspect— 
though the speaker implicitly contended that this knowl- 
edge or attainment or divine afflatus (whatever it is) could 
not be known or understood from others, but must be ac- 
quired, learned and felt only by the soul itself, by means 
of its own efforts, by purity, obedience, meditation, free- 
dom (as far as possible) from actual sin, and by progress 
in goodness and piety. His attempted explanation of the 
miracles of Jesus was not so successful, --showing how 
little connection there is, or may be, between rationality 
and great purity, sincerity and goodness." "Fra lkin- 
cense," Mr. Alcott used to say, quoting Pythagoras, "is 
due to the gods, and praise to virtuous men." 

Saratoga, Aug. 29. F. B. Sanborn. 



(86) 
AS THE TRANSCENDENTAL AGE CLOSES: 
THOMAS WILLIAM PARSONS AND GEORGE CURTIS— 
IDEALISM REDUCED TO PRACTICE 

Three deaths of such importance to American litera- 
ture and life as those of Curtis, Parsons and Whittier, 
within the short span of a week, never occurred before, 
and are not likely to happen again . They suggest with 
renewed force what has often been said since Emerson 
died 10 years ago, --that the first great age of American 
letters is closing, --has in fact ended; for its few survi- 
vors, such as Holmes and Higginson, Ellery Channing 
and Mrs. Stowe, no longer write much, save in reminis- 
cence of the better days wherein they had more pleasure 
than in these hurrying and accomplishing weeks of their 
later pilgrimage. They would not say that the former 
days were better than these, --for they have been looking 
forward to this very period where we now are; and indeed 
have had their manly or womanly part in creating this 
period, --Mrs. Howe, Mrs. Cheney and Mrs. Lucy Stone 
(to name no others), having either of them done more to- 
ward it than that typical man of letters and foe of woman 
suffrage, Francis Parkman, whose completed historical 
work we were all praising a few weeks since. 

By contrast, Mr. Parkman 's name suggests what will 
hereafter be reckoned the distinctive quality of the lit- 
erary age that Whittier 's death closes, --from which the 
sturdy courage and urbane culture of George William Cur- 
tis has thrown a bridge over to the present and the future 
ages of literature in America. Mr. Parkman might have 
lived and written as well in England or France or Germany 



120 



as in Boston, except that his early acquaintance with our 
continent gave him an advantage over writers who do not 
know the difference between Ohio and Oregon, between an 
Iroquois and a Cherokee. He belonged to that universal pe- 
riod of scholarship which contents itself with the past, en- 
joys the present, and looks with misgiving towards the fu- 
ture. Not so with Alcott and Bryant, with Emerson, Low- 
ell, Longfellow, Hawthorne, the Beechers, the Channings, 
Thoreau, Whittier and Curtis. These dealt with the future 
much more than with the past; to them the present, in its 
political, religious and social manifestations, was not to 
be enjoyed or praised, but corrected. They might have 
said, from youth to age, parodying the lament of Hamlet, 
and improving upon it. 

The time is out of joint: O blessed might, 
That you and I were born to set it right! 

Thus Bryant, though bred a fanatical New England fed- 
eralist, soon became a champion of Greek revolution and 
American democracy; Alcott proceeded from reforming the 
district school of Connecticut to the reformation of all the 
Connecticut habits of thought, worship and life; Garrison 
attacked, solitary and alone, the all-powerful evil of slav- 
ery; the Beechers contended against intemperance and Uni- 
tarianism; the Channings upheld the dignity of human na- 
ture and the rights of labor; Whittier, from a ballad poet 
and an imitator of Burns and Scott and Milton, rose to be 
the Tyrtaeus of the anti- slavery warfare; while George 
Curtis, forsaking the counting-room for reasons of con- 
science, learned at Brook Farm and afterward at Concord, 
the "plain living and high thinking" which were character- 
is ic of the transcendental movement in New England, and 
redeemed it from the vagaries that always attend revolu- 
tions which are at once religious, political and social. 
Curtis went through the midst of these vagaries as the 
three Hebrew children passed through the fire, --without 
losing an atom of his life or natural environment; and he 
acquired there a calmness and breadth of vision which was 
also the quality most evident in the career of the leading 
transcendentalists. I have been amused to find in the new 
work of Dr. Tuke on insanity, --his "Dictionary of Psycho- 
logical Medicine," lately published in London, and the most 
important of all his many books, --this allusion to the New 
England transcendentalists: 

One of the most extraordinary examples of eccentric 
thought and action is to be found in a movement which oc- 
curred in New England within the last half century, and to 
which the appellation of "The Newness" was given. After 
perusing what has been related by those who were acquaint- 
ed with these New Englanders, we find no evidence what- 
ever of mental disease, and regard them as illustrations 
of peculiar psychical constitutions which, under remark- 
able upheavals of religious thought, fell into eccentric 
courses, but did not become insane. Such persons, al- 
though constitutionally susceptible to impression and to 
fantastic suggestions, are not to be confounded with those 
inborn and inherited characters which no circumstances, 
however favorable, would be likely to alter. 

It now begins to be seen, and will become clearer as 
time passes, that it was the spiritual insight and generous 



endeavor of the transcendentalists which gave its im- 
pulse and its distinguishing character to that New Eng- 
land school of thought and imagination which has pro- 
duced what is thus far the best in the literature that can 
be called properly American. Irving, with all his graces, 
was as much English as American; and Cooper was little 
more than a story-teller, though an admirable one; but 
with Dr. Charming, with Bryant, the Danas, Mrs. Child, 
Alcott, Emerson, Hawthorne and Margaret Fuller there 
began a literary period which could have originated no- 
where but in America and nowhere in America save in 
New England. Now of this school Whittier was one of the 
most genuine and original examples- -not original in his 
form of poetic utterance, but strictly so in his adherence 
to the conditions of New England life, whether seen with 
reference to the landscape or to the spiritual conditions. 
As a poet of locality he surpasses Longfellow and Lowell, 
Emerson and Channing; and while he does not rise into 
the atmosphere of general culture in which those four 
poets moved so easily, he is not, on that account, less 
distinctly of New England, --for general culture, such as 
is seen in European countries, has not been characteris- 
tic of New England until recently, if at all. The tran- 
scendentalists have done something to impart it; for with 
all their specialization in one direction or another, they 
will keep in view "the Totality," as we used to say at the 
Concord school of philosophy, and did not fail to advise 
and practice a culture which, if not so wide-reaching as 
Goethe's, at least aimed in the same direction, --and 
they were roundly abused for that, as for almost every- 
thing they did. 

The poet Parsons, whose genius you have so well noted 
since his sad death, did specially attend to culture, in 
that form which Dante, the church and poetry as an art, 
together represent. He was a literary artist, in a sense 
that did not apply to Whittier, or even to Longfellow, ex- 
cept in the Dante student-work of his last 20 years. Long- 
fellow, Lowell and Ellery Channing (to mention no others), 
had broader scholarship, --but Parsons gave himself to 
the production and perfection of good verse in a way that 
none of them undertook. It is sometimes a fault to write 
verse too easily and these three poets are an example of 
it, --especially Lowell, whose early facility might almost 
have been called "fatal" if he had not redeemed himself 
by a more frugal use of his faculty in later days. No 
American poet whom I now recall wrote verse habitually 
better than did Parsons, --although his vein was a side- 
current in the river of New England's literature. His 
spirit was truly American, too, as Webster's was, though 
it wrought in a medium not quite in keeping with the gen- 
eral texture of our country's life. Like Webster, when 
the momentous hour struck, he did not fully comprehend 
the issues of the future, nor had he that self-denying tem- 
per which the age demanded of New England poets. He, 
somehow, often reminded me of Hawthorne, and was like 
him in that intellectual continence and patience which even 
the greatest poets need. 

If Parsons stood for the Past, and the Channings, Al- 
cott, Emerson and Thoreau for the Future, --as in truth 
most of the transcendentalists did, --then George Curtis 
was, or formed the graceful arch that bridged over the 
gulf between the two periods and the two types of literary 
men. He was not less forward-looking than his Concord 



121 



friends, but he valued the Present, --and such was his sym- 
pathy with what was pure and good in the Past that the good 
conservative, equally with the pure radical, found a charm 
in him and desired his friendship. In earlier years he al- 
lowed his wit sometimes to play too satirically round saint- 
ly persons like Alcort, who had frivilous people enough to 
laugh at them, without deserving the arrows of their own 
allies; but this levity of youth and pleasure was soon turned 
to a serious courtesy towards men entitled to respect, that 
few will probably recognize the early fault. He then ac- 
quired that exquisite propriety- -half a gift and half an ac- 
complishment- -which is rarely met with in any social re- 
gion, and which is so precious in a reformer and champion 
of the weak. Emerson had the same trait on a higher plane, 
but without the native grace of manner so obvious in Curtis; 
Washington also had it, blended with a serene severity that 
inspired awe; while in the friend we have now lost it was 
gentleness without alloy. Of course he had high courage 
likewise, that was a quality which reformers always need 
and seldom lack, yet it was never displayed unseasonably. 
If he did not, as Antony said of Augustus, keep his sword 
like a dancer, he yet kept it sheathed when not needed for 
use. 

The years from 1836 to 185D, when Whittier was grow- 
ing famous and Curtis growing to active manhood, were 
the period in which transcendentalism framed and disputed 
its theories: but from 1850 to the present day it has been 
putting them in practice, --at first, with strife and revolu- 
tion, --of late on a scale so vast that few recognize, in the 
despised and rejected truths of that first epoch, the band- 
ed powers that have long been transforming the old order 
into t ie new. Such is the might of ideas, --apparently the 
most feeble, yet in fact the most forcible agencies in the 
universe. Dr. Watts was once styled 'the ballad -singer 
of Calvinism"; Whittier has been for almost three-score 
years the ballad-singer of transcendentalism. The Lon- 
don Times, I notice, says, and says very well, that "what 
Scott did for Scotland, Whittier did for New England." 
This is not to put him on a levol with Scott- -his place is 
rather beside Burns--less gifted with sentiment and melo- 
dy, but far better endowed on the side of morals and reli- 
gion. They were alike in the natural quality of their gen- 
ius, and to some extent in the conditions of early life, 
which neither could quite throw off. Of all the notices 
that I have read the Evening Post's (written, perhaps, by 
Col. Higginson) is the most instructive, if not the best in 
criticism . This because the writer knew his subject best; 
and belonged to the same period, the same school of senti- 
ment and purpose. Only such can now judge Whittier ade- 
quately, --and a like remark is nearly as true of Curtis. 
A later age must bestow the more impartial honors of the 
coming century; which will neither undervalue Parsons nor 
overrate Curtis, if it gives them a rank much higher than 
their own times allowed them. 



(87) 

ACCUMULATING TRIBUTES TO THOREAU 

AND ALCOTT 

When Thoreau was dead, and there was a question what 
his grave monument should be, a Concord lady who knew 
him well said, "This town is his monument, covered with 



suitable inscriptions by himself." These inscriptions 
appear in his books which relate almost wholly to Con- 
cord and its scenery, so that they may serve as a direc- 
tory, or "Baedeker's Guide" to the region through which 
the Musketaquid flows. But there is a newer work, spe- 
cially devoted to the names of the residents, streets, 
halls, public places, clubs, monuments, shops and gen- 
eral business interests of Concord, lately published here 
by E. H. Smith & Co. , in a near volume of 125 pages be- 
sides the advertising pages at the end. It is newer than 
Mr. George Bartlett's Concord Guide Book, and reason- 
ably exact in its information. I notice, however, that the 
name of one of the oldest residents, and the one surviving 
poet of the Transcendental period, who still lives in Con- 
cord and who was Thoreau 's biographer- -William Ellery 
Charming, is omitted. Perhaps this is because his house 
has passed into other hands: but I have reason to know 
that he still lives here. 

Thoreau aided fugitives to escape from the inverted 
justice of forty years ago, and mentions one slave whom 
he sheltered and sent on to Canada Oct. 1, 1851 . He also 
mentions, without giving his name, another outlawed per- 
son, Francis Jackson Merriam, whom he carried in Em- 
erson's wagon from Concord to South Acton the day after 
John Brown's execution, December 3, 1859. Merriam 
had escaped from Harper's Ferry with Owen Brown, re- 
turned to Boston where his family lived, and was persuad- 
ed by his friends to go back to Canada for safety. By 
some mistake, in his half insane condition, he took a 
train on the Fitchburg road which went no further than 
Concord, and sought shelter in my house for the night. 
Not wishing to hire a conveyance for him, I borrowed 
Mr. Emerson's horse and wagon and asked Thoreau to 
take the young man early in the morning, and drive him 
to Acton, so that any trace of him might be lost. I would 
not myself see Merriam, not wishing to be questioned 
about him, but my sister provided for his wants and saw 
him off in the morning. 

In his Journal for this dav, Thoreau records some of 
the conversation, as he drove this uneasy passenger over 
the four miles from Concord to Acton. Merriam inquired 
the way to Emerson's, and wished to turn back and go 
there. "At length, when I made a certain remark, he 
said: 'I don't know but you are Emerson; are you? You 
look something like him.' He said as much two or three 
times, and added once, 'but then Emerson would not lie.' 
Getting to the woods, I remarked upon them, and he men- 
tioned my name, but never to the end suspected who his 
companion was." Neither did Thoreau know who his com- 
panion was; for I told him he was called Lockwood, and if 
he mentioned any other name not to pay heed to it, but to 
call him Lockwood. Thoreau reported to me that morn- 
ing that he had seen him safe on board the Canada train; 
but he said nothing to his mother and sister of the adven- 
ture until two years afterwards, during his last sickness. 

The Virginia campaign of John Brown occurred during 
the months covered by this volume. Thoreau was greatly 
excited by it and by the imprisonment and death of Brown, 
now almost 33 years ago. It was a strange season, when 
men said and did extreme things. A year afterwards 
(Dec. 3, 1860), Thoreau talked with some of his acquaint- 
ances who declared that Brown did wrong. "When I said 
that I thought he was right, they agreed in asserting that 



122 



he did wrong because he threw his life away, and that no 
man had a right to undertake anything which he knew would 
cost him his life. I inquired if Christ did not foresee that 
he would be crucified if he preached such doctrines as he 
did; but they both (though as if it were their only escape) 
asserted that they did not believe that he did. Of course 
they as good as said that if Christ had foreseen that he 
would be crucified, he would have 'backed out.' Such are 
the principles and the logic of the mass of men." This 
last remark is Thoreau's, not mine. 

Immersed as I am in the papers and reminiscences of 
the Transcendental period of New England life, while edit- 
ing the biography of Bronson Alcott, I must be pardoned for 
giving now and then some echoes from that distant time, 
which to most of my readers must be as remote almost as 
the days of Athanasius and Arius, and the great controver- 
sies of the early Church at Alexandria. There were saints 
and there were provision dealers in both periods, although 
America could not furnish a person quite so astonishing 
as George of Cappadocia, who was hated by the Athana- 
sians, and perhaps afterwards canonized by the Popes as 
St. George who overcame the dragon. His story was told 
by Emerson in the "English Traits," following Gibbons, — 
but Dr . Milner and later writers have thrown doubt on the 
saintship of this army contractor, --declaring it was quite 
another martyr who is now the patron saint of England . 
George of Cappadocia was not only a bishop, but one who 
had been a sutler and a contractor, who became rich by 
supplying the army of Constantinople with pork. 

Mr. Howard Arnold, in his lively book on the Engadine 
published a dozen years ago, thinks the English derive their 
love of baked meats from this patron saint; but I have my 
doubts. Mr. Alcott avoided meats of all kinds, for which 
he was much derided by the bishops and sutlers of his day; 
he was also found fault with as an Arian, which was one of 
the defects of Bishop George in the fourth century. But he 
is quite likely to become a patron saint in future ages, — 
having, as Abraham Lincoln said, many of the marks and 
brands by which saints are recognized. Prof. Davidson 
of the Adirondack School of Philosophy, wrote to me after 
Mr. Alcott's death as follows: 

"If it be the highest praise to say of any man that he 
lived his own life, and not a borrowed one, that he was an 
author and not a play actor on the stage of reality, then 
that praise belongs to Mr. Alcott. Mr. Emerson many 
years ago said to me: 'I have always wished that I might 
outlive Mr. Alcott, in order that I might give his good 
things to the world; for I am sure that if I should do so now, 
he would disown them . When at his best Mr . Alcott said 
more good things than any man I have ever known. Who- 
ever writes his life will have to come to my papers .' I am 
pleased to be able to record these words, which carry so 
much weight. There is so little of the sadness of death in 
my thoughts of him that I am tempted to tell glad stories 
about him; how his daughter, that modern Antigone, used 
to say, 'Father is balloon, I am ballast'; and how Mr. Em- 
erson one day, in my presence, said with a twinkle in his 
eye, 'You see, Mr. Alcott sets the Darwinian theory on 
its head, '--one of the tersest sayings ever uttered." 

The late Dr. Hedge, who did not always agree with 
Mr. Alcott, said of him in 1888: "It is unnecessary that 
I should speak of his characteristic views, or his theory 
of living and vegetarian diet. All that is well known, and 



I prefer not to pass judgment upon it, nor to criticise his 
unearthly idealism and his anti-civil principles. But I 
can speak with unfeigned admiration of his rare talents. 
It seemed to me that even Emerson did not rate them so 
highly as I did. I thought, and think, that if he had cho- 
sen to use them venally, to put them to market, he might 
have earned a handsome support by them . But on the 
whole Alcott stands in my recollection for the best rep- 
resentative I have known of the spiritual hero. Here was 
a man who scorned the bribes of earth and the satisfac - 
tions of the flesh, whose spirit dwelt on the heights, who 
sought converse with the heavenly and eternal. He found 
his pou sto in the place allotted to him; and if he did not 
move the earth with his spiritual lever, he has impressed 
himself as a grand and significant figure on his contempo- 
raries." 

Something like this view of my old friend I hope may 
be the effect of the work I am editing, from the diaries 
and correspondence of the Alcotts, of Emerson, of Tho- 
reau, Theodore Parker and the other dramatis personae 
of the New England mystery or symbolical stage-play in 
which so many famous men took part. Dr. Harris, the 
Concord philosopher, residing at Washington, will give 
the speculative key to these symbols which it is only my 
share to arrange and present. 



(88) 
THE STORY OF THREE VISITORS 
TO EMERSON AND ALCOTT 

Among the stories ascribed to Whittier, since his 
death, is one which professedly was told him by Emer- 
son, and which seems to relate to Christopher Green and 
his brother-in-law, William Chace of Providence, who 
visited Alcott and Emerson at Concord in 1848, and who 
had the whim of using scripture language outside of the 
churches in a manner unusual. The story as now told is 
full of errors, like so much of the mythical story of Con- 
cord. It was better given by Robert Carter in an essay 
at Rochester, N.Y., about 1870, which was printed by 
the late Albert Brown in the Century Magazine for Novem- 
ber, 1889. His account was not without errors, but may 
serve to correct the other. 

Mr. Carter represented that there were three young 
men who, in their protest against superstition, "dropped 
their own names and took those of the Trinity, which they 
used very freely." He goes on to say: "On one occasion 
they visited Emerson, whose house in Concord is not very 
far from the village street. It was a warm summer eve- 
ning, and as they sat at the philosopher's front door, 
their extraordinary vocabulary attracted the attention of 
the passers-by to such an extent that Mr. Emerson was 
presently compelled to adjourn the session to the back 
piazza, where they might swear to their hearts* content 
without shocking the prejudices of the Philistines." This 
does not show a very close acquaintance with the topogra- 
phy of the Emerson house, --just as the newspaper story 
makes these youths talk in the Yankee dialect, although 
they were educated persons, and every way "respectable." 

Something of the sort may have happened, and probably 
did, at Mr. Emerson's, but Mr. Alcott (whom they also 
visited on the same occasion, and whom they invited to 



123 



come and live with them at "Holly Home," near Providence) 
used to tell me that their humor of swearing, upon their 
visit to him, was exercised on the hilltop, Nawshawtuc, 
near which he was then living, but quite remote from the 
public street. Mr. Carter mentioned them in connection 
with the little community of Fruitlands in Harvard, where 
one of the three (named by him) dwelt for a while; and he 
adds that "they were arrested and fined for profane swear- 
ing during a visit to Nantucket." They were of Quaker an- 
cestry, I think, and were repeating some of the extrava- 
gances by which the early Quakers bore their testimony 
against the formalities of religion. 



(89) 
THOMAS PAINE 'S AUTUMNAL DAYS 

If Chapman had wished to foreshadow the character of 
Thomas Paine, born 180 years after himself, he could 
hardly have described it better than in these lines, 

Whose lips are spiced with free and loyal counsels, 
Whose policies are not ruinous, but saving, 
His wisdom simple, valor righteous, 
Humane, and hating facts of brutish force, -- 
Who loves men hearty, honest, just and plain. 

Such was, in fact, Paine 's truly English character; but 
along with it went, what his last biographer is not quite 
willing to admit, that native coarseness which the Eng- 
lishman, especially the Saxon Englishman, is sure to dis- 
play occasionally; and a spice of what, for want of a better 
term, we must call vulgarity, --a quality seen in Cobbett, 
and even in Bunyan and Carlyle, although they were men 
of such lofty imagination. It was this lack of elevation in 
some directions that made Paine so offensive to the reli- 
gious world that they have gone on calumniating him for 
100 years; and will not stop now, I presume, for all the 
new light that Mr. Conway, with admirable diligence, has 
collected from all quarters to illuminate his altarpiece in 
memory of this retroactive apostle. If Paine had under- 
stood the true nature of the religious sentiment, and had 
not confounded it with superstition on one side and philan- 
thropy on the other, he could hardly have made himself so 
objectionable to men of all churches and "sectaries," as 
he oddly called the Christian denominations. It was his 
spice of vulgarity also, no doubt, which made him a little 
out of tune with the great Virginians- -Washington, Jeffer- 
son and Madison- -who were at first heartily his friends. 
Understanding human nature so well as Paine did, he ought 
to have made allowance for the silence of Washington, 
while he was suffering imprisonment in Paris; and have 
launched against the greatest man of his period the offen- 
sive letter which turned many of his American friends into 
opponents . 

I must say that although I do not go along with Mr. Con- 
way in all his dark suspicions of Gouverneur Morris, I 
must regard that witty and brave aristocrat as one of the 
persons aptly described by Emerson as 'fine gentlemen 
who behaved shabbily." If anything could be more shabby 
than Morris's behavior toward Paine and his American 
friends during Paine's imprisonment, I should like to know 
what it would be. Mr. Roosevelt falls into the common 



error about Paine, and in his life of Morris is just as 
shabby, in a literary sense, as Morris had been in a 
national one. Mr. Roosevelt says, what the facts abun- 
dantly disprove, that Paine had no claim to the title of an 
American citizen; and calls him 'the filthy little atheist"; 
which is just as descriptive as it would be to call Mr. 
Roosevelt "a nasty little cowboy." The word "atheist" 
ought by this time to have a recognized meaning among 
Harvard graduates, --it signifies a man who denies the 
existence of a God; yet this existence was what Paine was 
all his life proclaiming, while endeavoring to bring the 
world up to something like a belief in his own definition 
of the divine character. But Mr. Roosevelt's dictionary 
seems to be all out of order; he thinks a "duelist" on the 
whole a more useful member of society than a "Quaker"; 
and such, no doubt, was Morris's own opinion. Morris 
was in Paris not so much to assist the royal family, or 
make love to fine ladies, as to take care of American in- 
terests, and do what he could for Americans in danger 
of the guillotine. That he might have taken Paine out of 
prison as easily as his successor James Monroe did, is 
hardly to be questioned; and the conduct of Monroe, as 
now set forth by Mr. Conway, is much more to his credit 
than that of Morris. Paine might have been much better 
employed in the Luxembourg than in finishing his "Age of 
Reason"; yet even in that work he declares his theism in 
terms which it is fair to suppose Mr. Roosevelt never 
read. Here they are: 

The creation we behold is the real and ever existing 
word of God, in which we cannot be deceived. It pro- 
claimeth his power, it demonstrates his wisdom, it mani- 
fests his goodness and beneficence. The moral duty of 
man consists in imitating the moral goodness and benefi- 
cence of God manifested in the creation towards all his 
creatures. That seeing as we daily do, the goodness of 
God to all men, it is an example calling upon all men to 
practice the same towards each other, and consequently 
that everything of persecution and revenge between man 
and man, and everything of cruelty to animals, is a vio- 
lation of moral duty . 

In such statements Paine, like Franklin and Jefferson, 
and like Washington himself was far in advance of his 
age; and few men have ever worked more sincerely, if 
not always wisely, in behalf of mankind, than Paine did. 
A little of Franklin's worldly wisdom, of Washington's 
coolness and sense of honor, of Jefferson's exquisite 
politeness, would have kept him out of many follies and 
dangers, into which with true English pigheadedness he 
was perpetually running. Mr. Conway prints for the 
first time many documents; one of the best is that joint 
production of Madame Bonneville and William Cobbett, 
which appears in the appendix to his second volume. A 
great part of this must have come from the Frenchwoman, 
a devout Roman Catholic, to whom he had shown so much 
kindness, and who was so attentive to him in his age and 
illness . This gives real value to the characterization of 
the man in this document which runs as follows: 

Seemingly insensible and hard to himself, he was not 
so to the just wailings of the unhappy. Without any vehe- 
ment expression of his sorrow, you might see him call- 



124 



ing up all his powers, walking silently, thinking of the best 
means of consoling the unfortunate applicant; and never 
did they go from him without some rays of hope. And as 
his will was firm and settled, his efforts were always suc- 
cessful. The man hardened in vice and in courts (of law) 
yields more easily than one imagines to the manly entreat- 
ies of a disinterested benefactor. Thomas Paine loved his 
friends with sincere and tender affection. His simplicity 
of heart, and that happy kind of openness, or rather care- 
lessness, which charms our hearts in reading the fables 
of the good La Fontaine, made him extremely amiable. 
If little children were near him he patted them, searched 
his pockets for the store of cakes, biscuits, sugar-plums, 
pieces of sugar, of which he used to take possession as of 
a treasure belonging to them and the distribution of which 
belonged to him. His conversation was unaffectedly sim- 
ple and frank; his language natural; always abounding in 
curious anecdotes. He justly and fully seized the charac- 
ters of all those of whom he related any singular traits . 
For his conversation was satyric, instructive, full of wit- 
ticisms. If he related an anecdote a second time, it was 
always in the same words and the same tone, like the com- 
ic actor who knows the place where he is to be applauded . 
He neither cut the tale short nor told it too circumstan- 
tially. It was real conversation, enlivened by digressions 
well brought in. The vivacity of his mind, and the numer- 
ous scenes of which he had been a spectator, or in which 
he had been an actor, rendered his narration the more 
animated, his conversation the more endearing. His 
memory was admirable. Politics was his favorite sub- 
ject. He never spoke on religious subjects unless pressed 
to it, and never disputed about such matters. He could 
not speak French; he could understand it tolerably well 
when spoken to him, and he understood it when on paper 
perfectly well. He never went to the theater; never spoke 
on dramatic subjects. He rather delighted in ridiculing 
poetry. He did not like it; he said it was not a serious 
thing, but a sport of the mind, which often had not com- 
mon sense. His common reading was the affairs of the 
day; not a single newspaper escaped him, not a political 
discussion: he knew how to strike while the iron was hot, 
and, as he was always on the watch he was always ready 
to write. Hence all his pamphlets have been popular and 
powerful. He wrote with composure and steadiness, as if 
under the guidance of a tutelary genius. If, for an instant, 
he stopped, it was in the attitude of a man who listens. 
The Saint Jerome of Raphael would give a perfect idea of 
his contemplative recollection, to listen to the voice from 
on high which makes itself heard in the heart. 

This last is certainly an odd comparison but Mme. 
Bonneville had been accustomed to think of her Catholic 
saints more familiarly than Anglo-Saxons do. During 
Paine's last illness, she says, the following incident oc- 
curred, --by no means an unusual one, apparently, at New 
Rochelle or New York or wherever the old man might be 
in 1807-8-9: 

While Paine was one day taking his after-dinner nap, 
an old woman called and said she had domething of great 
importance to communicate to him. She was shown into 
his bed chamber, and Paine, raising himself on his elbow 
and turning toward the woman, said: "What do you want 



with me?" "I came," said she, "from God, to tell you 
that if you don't repent and believe in Christ, you'll be 
damned." "Poh, poh, it's not true," said Paine; "you are 
not sent with such an impertinent message. Send her 
away. Pshaw! God would not send such a foolish, ugly 
old woman as you. Turn this messenger out. Get away; 
be off; shut the door." And so the old woman packed her- 
self off. 

This is a good example of Paine's sense and wit mixed 
with something not so admirable; we may be sure that if 
Franklin on his death-bed had been visited by such a mis- 
sionary, he would have replied so as to make a friend 
even of the poor old creature, who intruded upon him. 
Can it be that she was one of the 'Valuable Friends " of 
whom Stephen Grellet speaks in his account of Paine's 
last illness? It was not Mary Roscoe, and of course it 
was not Grellet himself. The neighboring Quakers ap- 
pear to advantage in Grellet 's narrative; not exactly so 
in Mme. Bonneville's statement, which says: 

He wished to be buried in the Quaker burying- ground, 
and sent for a member of the committee (Willett Hicks) 
who lived in the neighborhood. The interview took place 
on the 19th of March, 1809. Paine said, when we were 
looking out for another lodging, we had to put in order 
the affairs of our present abode. This was precisely the 
case with him: all his affairs were settled, and he had 
only to provide his burying- ground; his father had been a 
Quaker, and he hoped they would not refuse him a grave; 
"I will," added he, "pay for the digging of it." The com- 
mittee of the Quakers refused to receive his body, at 
which he seemed deeply moved, and observed to me, who 
was present at the interview, that their refusal was fool- 
ish. 

At the actual burial an incident happened which is, 
perhaps, the most affecting part of the Frenchwoman's 
narrative. Here was the man who had done so much for 
America and for France, and these two great countries 
only found voice at his funeral through an exiled and ca- 
lumniated woman and her son, who was to become an 
American citizen. It reminds one of that old soldier of 
Pompey the Great burning the headless trunk on the sands 
of Egypt, with the fragments of a broken boat, in remem- 
brance of service under the famous captain. Mme. Bonne- 
ville says: 

This interment was a scene to affect and to wound any 
sensible heart. Contemplating who it was, what man it 
was, whom we were committing to an obscure grave on 
an open and disregarded bit of land, I could not help feel- 
ing most acutely. Before the earth was thrown down upon 
the coffin, I, placing myself at the east of the grave, said 
to my son, Benjamin, "Stand you there, at the other end, 
as a witness for grateful America." Looking around me, 
and beholding the small group of spectators, I exclaimed, 
as the earth was tumbled into the grave, "Oh! Mr. Paine! 
My son stands here as testimony of the gratitude of Amer- 
ica, and I, for France!" This was the funeral ceremony 
of this great politician and philosopher. 

We should hardly esteem Paine now as "a great poli- 



125 
tician and philosopher"; he was rather a great journalist, 
such as we have seen once or twice in England and in this 
country. He was more acute and less prejudiced than Cob- 
bett; he was more a man of the world than Horace Gree- 
ley; he had the intellectual without the personal sagacity of 
Thurlow Weed, and he played a great part for many years 
without being what posterity will call a great man. Mr. 
Conway's biography would assist Paine 's fame more if it 
were not so evidently partisan; if he would leave a little 
margin for censure and ridicule, which like most philan- 
thropists, and all "theo-philanthropists," Paine often de- 
served. It is hardly to be expected that men will change 
their opinions concerning Washington and Jefferson in or- 
der to bestow new laurels upon Paine, who was not, like 
them, an epoch-making man, but merely the reappearance 
of a character grown familiar in all literary history. It 
would be doing him injustice to set him no higher than 
"Mr. Andro Kennedy," whose last will and testament the 
Scotch poet Dunbar has preserved—for he belonged higher 
up in those ranks of the Saxon people for whom Kennedy 
uttered this nuncupative will: 

I will na priestis for me sing 

Dies ilia , Dies irae ; 
Na yet na bellis for me ring, 

Sicut semper solet fieri ; 
But a bagpipe to play a spring, 

Et unum ailwisp ante me : 
Instead of banners, for to bring, 

Quatuor lagenas cervisiae . 

The four "little brown jugs that now foam with mild ale," 
which Kennedy called for at his funeral, appear conspicu- 
ous in all the unfavorable accounts of Paine; but Mr. Con- 
way restores him to the ranks of moderate drinkers. In 
any case, he did not get drunk so often as William Pitt, 
or probably, Gouverneur Morris; his morals were better 
than those of Talleyrand or Hamilton, and if he had con- 
tinued on good terms with the popular churches he might 
now be as highly regarded as President Dwight of Yale, 
or Parson Osgood, or even Dr. Kirkland of Medford and 
Cambridge. He was not exactly a Pilgrim Father, --but 
then he was not a Mormon, --and that is something, even 
in this obliterating and restoring age. 



(90) 

SAMUEL LONGFELLOW, EMERSON 

AND THEODORE PARKER 

Reminiscences of the late Samuel Longfellow are called 
forth by his death, and are all agreeable and to his credit. 
A classmate of his writes me: "He had the finest mind in 
our class, --a good deal like his brother, but not so strong. 
He always had a lovely heliotrope in his room; it was his 
national flower. He was a good Emersonian, but not quite 
good enough . That was his only fault . He got involved in 
the church, and never saw his way clear like the Concord 
folks." Another writes: "My thoughts have been with our 
sick and dying friend, Samuel Longfellow, whose unfailing 
friendship and steadfast devotion have been 'like a great 
rock in a weary land.*" 

The mention of Emerson leads my correspondent to say: 



"When Mr. Emerson gave his lectures in Cambridge at 
the old Lyceum Hall in 1838, Longfellow and I were the 
only students there, --and not a professor except Dr. 
Beck. The Ripleys and the Francis family came from 
Waltham and Watertown; and Mr. Stetson and all the Med- 
ford saints; and the most charming people from Boston, 
but hardly any Cambridge people; in fact, there were 
none. His old colleague, Henry Ware, jr., was not there. 
To be sure, the times were pretty well out of joint- -per- 
haps never more so. 

"You never had the pleasure of tasting Mr. Emerson's 
best things, hot from the oven. I heard them all, --every 
one of the two volumes of Essays --many of them twice, -- 
in Cambridge and Boston, and wherever -he showed his 
head. Nobody can quite appreciate him or New England 
who did not see him in those fine days when he was all 
afire. I am reading all the finest things daily, and am 
perfectly astonished at his breadth and depth. How much 
it takes to make a great man ! He has never yet been half 
appreciated or praised, except by Ellery Channing in his 
great Ode." 

This Ode, indeed, published in 1847, and written, I 
suppose, in 1845-6, is remarkable among the poems of 
a remarkable poet. Take this passage, for example, 
pointing at the imitators of Emerson: 

Some weary-footed mortals we have found 

Adventuring after thee : 

They, --rooted, as a tree 

Pursues the swift breeze o'er a rocky ground; 

Thy grand, imperial flight 

Sweeping thee far from sight, 

As sweeps the movement of a Southern blast 

Across the heated Gulf, and bends the mast. 

Mr. Henry W. Hilliard, who was a whig orator, con- 
gressman and foreign minister between 1840 and 1880, 
and who published, not long since, his Memoirs, full of 
reminiscence and compliment, has not a word to say of 
Emerson in his 450 pages, although he mentions Theodore 
Parker, and once went to hear him preach at the Melodeon 
in Boston, while visiting his whig friends in the winter of 
1848-9. Mr. Hilliard was the guest in Boston of Nathan 
Appleton, the father of Mrs . Henry Longfellow; and on 
Sunday morning, he says, "Mrs. Appleton asked me 
where I proposed to attend divine service. I said it was 
my wish to hear the famous Theodore Parker. She said: 
'Mr. Hilliard, we cannot accompany you; we do not go to 
hear Mr. Theodore Parker in Boston.' I begged her to 
excuse me, for a man of genius always interested me." 

Upon that score Mr . Hilliard ought to have been inter- 
ested in Emerson, but it does not appear that he even 
knew his name. He goes on to say that the late Tom Ap- 
pleton "was standing by, and said that he would undertake 
to accompany me- -as he was so much from home that he 
might venture to do so. When Mr. Parker entered, I ob- 
served him with interest. His face was strikingly intel- 
lectual, and his bearing that of a scholar and a man of 
the world, who bore himself easily in the presence of a 
large and cultured audience. His discourse was upon 
Christ, and in the treatment of his theme he expressed 
himself in terms which showed his utter independence of 
recognized thought in the Christian world. . . . The whole 



126 
service was beautiful, bright, attractive, but there was 
not a touch of divine grace about it, not the whisper of an 
angel's voice, not a ray of divine love to illumine any part 
of it," 

I should have mentioned that Mr. Hilliard was from Ala- 
bama, a rival of the great Yancey, whose biography was 
written so copiously a few months ago, and with such ef- 
fusive praise of negro slavery and the slave-holding class. 
He is a milder and more agreeable sample of the Southern 
mind than Yancey, and his notices of famous people are 
sometimes very good. . . . 

It is difficult even for a mild-mannered man of the world, 
like this old gentleman, to see negro slavery in its true 
light; and when he comes to speak of Abraham Lincoln and 
the Emancipation Proclamation, Mr. Hilliard says: "He 
overrode the Constitution, annulled the laws of States, 
and undertook to set free immediately the slaves, not- 
withstanding the danger of a servile war in States of com- 
mon origin, and occupied by kindred people." As these 
"kindred people" had rebelled, and were doing their best 
to overthrow our government and destroy the Constitution 
and the laws of the States, these platitudes do not sound 
very well at present. Equally absurd is Mr. Hilliard 's 
remark that Lincoln "displayed a rash purpose to main- 
tain the government by the usurpation of powers not grant- 
ed in the Constitution, "--as if rebellion and civil war were 
nothing but a suit in chancery. But he kindly adds that 
"slavery was an anachronism in the nineteenth century; 
its abolition was in harmony with the spirit of the age." 
It will go near to be thought so shortly, now that this Ala- 
bama Whig has said so. 



(91) 

TENNYSON AND EMERSON 

With the death of Tennyson dies our youth- -those of us 
who were so fortunate as to begin modern poetry with the 
romantic and scholarly poet of Lincolnshire. Perhaps it 
was necessary to have been born in that flat and maritime 
county, or some region like unto it, in order to feel the 
full force of Tennyson's genius as a nature -poet- -an ob- 
server of the hours and colors, the forms and shadows, 
of the landscape. His skill in verse--so great as to sug- 
gest in his youthful period that it was a trick, not a gift-- 
could be seen by anyone with an ear for metrical grace 
and melody; but to appreciate his word-painting of scen- 
ery you must have seen the effect that old ocean exerts 
on the skies and the earth, at every gliding hour of day 
or night. For example: 

In the stormy east wind straining, 

The pale yellow woods were waning, 

The broad stream in his banks complaining, 

Heavily the low sky raining 

Over towered Camelot. 

This gives the picture complete to the dweller near 'the 
eastern sea," who alone can perceive the whole sweetness 
of the next sketch: 

Then when the first low matin-chirp hath grown 
Full quire, and Morning driven her plow of pearl. 



Far furrowing into light the mounded rack , 
Beyond the fair green field and eastern sea. 

This power to call up images of the seashore and the 
sea-sky is as great in his first verses as in his later 
ones; except that he acquired with time and practice a 
more magical form of expression. Dryden was right 
when he said of his young friend Oldham : 

Oh early ripe ! to thy abundant store 
What could advancing age have added more? 
It might ( what Nature never gives the young ) 
Have taught the numbers of thy native tongue . 

Yet in his prize poem "Timbuctoo" Tennyson wrote, 
at so early an age, with a distinct foreshadowing of his 
later power: 

When the sun 
Had fall'n below th' Atlantic, and above 
The silent heavens were blench 'd with faery 

light, 
Uncertain whether faery light or cloud. 
Flowing Southward, and the chasms of deep, 

deep blue 
Slumber 'd unfathomable, and the stars 
Were flooded over with clear glory and pale. 

It was indeed in this poem that the noble expression 
first appeared- - 

Listening the lordly music flowing from 
The illimitable years . 

It was given to the world, however, in another poem, 
the matchless "Ode to Memory," so filled with pictures 
of the imagination: 

The cope 

Of the half-attained futurity, 

Though deep not fathomless, 
Was cloven with the million stars that tremble 
O'er the deep mind of dauntless infancy . 
Sure Hope was nigher to heaven's spheres, 
Listening the lordly music flowing from 
The illimitable years. 

O, strengthen me, enlighten me! 

I faint in this obscurity, 

Thou dewy dawn of memory . 

We might indeed address the aged poet, as he, in this 
ode, addressed his early and abundant faculty of memory, 
--the poet's best gift: 

Artist -like, 
Ever retiring thou dost gaze 
On the prime labor of thine early days: 
No matter what the sketch might be, — 
Whether the high field on the bushless Pike, 
Or even a sand-built ridge 
Of heaped hills that mound the sea. 
Overblown with murmurs harsh; 
Or even a lowly cottage whence we see 



127 



Stretched wide and wild the waste enormous 

marsh; 
Where from the frequent bridge, 
Like emblems of infinity, 
The trenched waters run from sky to sky . 

In mere precision of picture Tennyson never surpassed 
this early word-painting, though he made his later work 
less vague and sketchy. He must have felt keenly the mis- 
fortune of age, which not only outlives its joys and its con- 
temporaries, but also its youthful or manly powers. Sel- 
dom has this aged sorrow been livelier portrayed than in 
his "Tithonus," which, ever since, the good gray poets 
have applied to their own case, --as Alcott did, and, no 
doubt, Tennyson. 

Alas! for this gray shadow, once a man- 
So glorious in his beauty and thy choice, 
Coldly thy rosy shadows bathe me, cold 
Are all thy lights, and cold my wrinkled feet 
Upon thy glimmering thresholds, . . . 
Release me, and restore me to the ground. 

Tennyson has enriched our literature, greatly in ex- 
pression, somewhat in thought and imagination; and I doubt 
if Emerson in later years would have repeated the rather 
harsh criticism of calling him "factitious" in the "English 
Traits." Yet he paid Tennyson high compliment also, -- 
"Color, like the dawn, flows over the horizon from his 
pencil, in waves so rich that we do not miss the central 
form. Through all his refinements, too, he has reached 
the public, --a certificate of good sense and general power; 
since he who aspires to be the English poet must be as 
large as London, not in the same kind as London, but in 
his own kind." I have heard that Tennyson took some of- 
fence at such frank censure as the American gave. 

There was more sympathy between these two poets than 
perhaps either knew. Both were Transcendentalists, though 
they never called themselves so, — both inclined to the new- 
er discoveries of science, and shrank from none of its le- 
gitimate results. Writing to his publisher, Moxon, in 
1844, Tennyson said, --"I want you to get me a book which 
I see advertised in the Examiner, --it seems to contain 
many speculations with which I have been familiar for 
years and on which I have written more than one poem . 
The book is called 'Vestiges of the Natural History of 
Creation,' and is published by J. Churchill; the price is 
7 shillings 6 pence, but you can get it cheaper." It was a 
famous book in its day, and was carefully read by Emer- 
son, who had one eye always upon the physical facts of the 
world . 



(92) 

THOUGHTS OF EMERSON, THOREAU AND 

CHANNING ON MONADNOC 

Lowell inquired, and thousands have echoed the ques- 
tion as if it were its own answer, 

What is so rare as a day in June? 

I am inclined to reply, "a day in October, such as we 
have had just now, "--for though there are more fine days 



in June, there are more rare ones in a serene and well 
colored October, such as we are seeing this year. I 
have today ascended Monadnoc , passing through the 
woods of Peterboro and Jaffrey, --finding the air as warm 
as June, the fields in many places still green, and the 
forests and all subordinate vegetation rejoicing in colors 
that no summer day can ever show. The maple, the 
beech, the oak, the birches and poplars, the fresh ever- 
green pine and the spruce showed the whole scale of orna- 
mental colors, --while the sumachs, blackberries, blue- 
berries, ferns and even the little five-finger, spreading 
its fairy- like hand along the huge rocks of Monadnoc, dis- 
played marvels of decorative color, --quite unapproacha- 
ble even by the floral display of Sicily, as I saw that in 
the spring of 1890. 

Monadnoc is a mountain for poets, possessing an ideal 
beauty, and almost no practical utility such as mountains 
often condescend to serve. Its rocks furnish no building 
stone, its forests give little timber and only serve for 
fuel, which also is now much displaced by the coal of the 
Alleghenies . There are no mineral treasures here of 
much value; the soil that has washed down from the moun- 
tain sides has no great fertility, though apples and pump- 
kins flourish in it; and even the water power that Monad- 
noc furnishes abundantly has lost much of its ancient 
utility since steam has come in everywhere. But for pur- 
poses of beauty, without too much severity and sublimity, 
Monadnoc is unsurpassed among American mountains, so 
far as I have seen them; and in this sense, as Emerson 
said of it, Monadnoc is "pure Use, "--beauty in New Eng- 
land being the most useful thing we can find. 

The season has been unusual this year in the prolonged 
brilliancy of the autumn leaves, which did not begin to 
take on their heightened color so early as common, and 
are now holding it late, or promising to do so. I have 
seen the foliage as far advanced in that ripeness which 
gives bright color on the 28th of September as it now is 
Oct. 13; while the summer greenness is so much re- 
tained by the white birches, the young beeches and some 
other trees and shrubs, as to give a tender tone to great 
masses of trees in a valley or on a low hillside. On the 
mountain itself the colors are more flaming, except as 
they are held in check by the many firs and spruces and 
the occasional white pines there. On the Dublin side of 
Monadnoc, between the mountain-top and the lake, is the 
finest show of color which the mountain itself makes to- 
day. This is less vast and brilliant than what is some- 
times seen on the Adirondack Mountains, because those 
are much higher and are clothed with trees farther up; 
but it is sufficiently remarkable and worth a visit to Mo- 
nadnoc only to see it. 

The summer residents in Dublin and Jaffrey still lin- 
ger here and there to enjoy these October sights; but the 
Mountain House, on the Jaffrey and Troy side, was closed 
Oct. 3, and the only resident in that high altitude today 
(2000 feet above the sea) was a Columbia College profes- 
sor, who climbed half-way up the mountain to meet me as 
I came down, and went with me to visit the plateau where 
Thoreau and Charming and the young people of Concord 
and Boston used to encamp. Thoreau 's special camp was 
farther on towards Jaffrey, and commanded also a view 
of the Peterboro pastures and the hills in Temple and 
New Ipswich that go in Concord under the general name 
of "the Peterboro Hills." The mountain cranberry, on 



128 
which Channing and I feasted when we spent a week on this 
plateau in 1869, is still to be found there or near by, but 
the sweet blueberry has gone. 

The best view of Monadnoc (though all are good) is from 
a hillside in Peterboro, some half-mile from the hotel, to 
the east, where you look across a small meadow, always 
green while anything remains green in those valleys, and 
through which the dark and swift stream of the Contoocook 
goes winding and brawling. This is the foreground, dotted 
today with bright trees and a small haystack here and there; 
beyond it are high pasture hills, and above them all the long, 
graceful ridge of Monadnoc, with a distinct peak, nearly 10 
miles off, and so softened and magnified by the distance and 
the foreground that it looks as high as the Attic Pentelicus, 
though that is some 500 feet loftier and so much nearer the 
sea that it rises far more abruptly to its 3600 feet of alti- 
tude. 

My companion, who had climbed Pentelicus, as I did, 
hardly noticed the resemblance, --perhaps because he had 
not seen Monadnoc from the Peterboro hill, --but it was 
very striking to me, both when I saw the Greek mountain, 
and again today, remembering it and the lovely March day 
I spent on its sides and summit, --as today has been passed 
on the slopes and foothills of Monadnoc . Greece gives 
softer and more magical atmospheric colors, but New 
Hampshire is fair in these, and has also this foliage col- 
or, more rich and varied than any European country can 
show. But the snowy mountains looking down on Marathon, 
and the Greek seas, beheld from Pentelicus, are such 
sights as Monadnoc cannot afford- -perhaps no other re- 
gion in the world. 

Mr. D.J. Snider, in his lately published "Epigram- 
matic Voyage," which is a sort of prelude to his 'Delphic 
Days," has put into the elegiac verse of Goethe and the 
Greek Anthologists some exquisite pictures of Greece and 
Rome, mingled with much that is harsher and more fan- 
tastical. The verse itself is capable of fine effects, as we 
see by Goethe's use of it, --and now and then by felicitous 
lines of Mr. Snider. Thus, speaking of Attica, and per- 
haps of Pentelicus and Marathon, Snider says: 

Here on this spot knit together are sea and valley 
and mountain. 

Here is the youth of the plain by the old hills over- 
looked; 

Each faint rustle of branches above is a goddess's 
whisper . 

Each petty murmur of brooks is a low laughter of 
Nymphs . 

All the gods are astir now, and, summoned to hold 
their assembly, 

Rise in the sound of the sea, move in the song of the 
land. 

It is this ideal, imaginative life we miss in the scenery 
of New England- -unless we can people that with the forms 
and the presence of those who once dwelt here and enjoyed 
it, as for my part I can. The thought of Emerson and Tho- 
reau and Channing going up and down Monadnoc, with the 
alert and cheerful step of youth which age and death cannot 
change, is with me today; and the presence of others no 
longer visible here haunts the woods and the valleys, as 
did each Muse and Nymph in Greece. On those distant 



mountains their life is still felt, even by the new travel- 
ler and the barbarian shepherd, --why not here, also, to 
those who remember the past? F. B. Sanborn. 

The Grand Monadnoc, Oct. 13. 



(93) 
ON PLYMOUTH, BROOK FARM AND 
SOCIALISTIC COMMUNITIES 

The sight of the two residences of the Plymouth Mor- 
tons, where, when I first came to this old landing place 
of the Pilgrims, Ediom and Ichabod Morton, two idealistic 
brothers, lived, with only a garden and a lane between 
their two houses, reminds me of the Brook Farm com- 
munity, in which one of them was so deeply interested, -- 
as both were in Horace Mann's measures of school re- 
form . Speaking of the residents at Brook Farm 50 years 
ago, Mr. Emerson once said: "George W. Curtis and his 
brother of English Oxford were members of the family 
from the first Theodore Parker, the near neighbor of the 
farm and the most intimate friend of Mr. Ripley, was a 
frequent visitor. Mr. Ichabod Morton of Plymouth, a 
plain man formerly engaged through many years in the 
fisheries with success, --eccentric, with a persevering 
interest in education, and of a very democratic religion, 
came and built a house on the farm, and he, or members 
of his family continued there to the end. Margaret Fuller, 
with her joyful conversation and large sympathy, was often 
a guest, and always in correspondence with her friends. 
Many ladies, whom to name were to praise, gave charac- 
ter and varied attraction to the place." 

Between 50 and 60 years since, and thence onward for 
15 years--say until about 1850--there was a strong ten- 
dency in New England toward a certain kind of socialism. 
Perhaps it would be more exact to call this "communism " 
rather--for the drift was toward communities, large or 
small, more than to that attempted equalization of proper- 
ty and opportunity at which Socialism somewhat blindly 
aims. That is, little effort was then made to redistribute 
possessions in the great community of civil society; but 
it was sought, by means of small organizations of men 
and women, which it was hoped would soon grow larger, 
to prepare and train mankind for the application of fra- 
ternal and communistic principles on a great scale, such 
as the scheme of Charles Fourier contemplated. 

Among the communities then formed and for some 
years continued, the most famous in New England, no 
doubt, was that of Brook Farm, a few miles west of Bos- 
ton at that time, but a part now of the wide-reaching city. 
That was a type, --together with Bronson Alcott's smaller 
and more ascetic experiment of "Fruitlands" in the town 
of Harvard, 20 miles southwest of Concord, and not far 
from Lancaster, in Worcester County, --of what might be 
seen in many places, under different conditions. Brook 
Farm has never found its complete historian. Such might 
our late friend, the ever-lamented George Curtis, have 
been; but he shrank from the task, as they say Wellington 
did in later years from describing Waterloo. Not that 
Brook Farm represented to Curtis either a great defeat, 
or, what Wellington said was next to that, a great victory; 
but perhaps it was too closely interwoven with that golden 
period of his youth which men of warm sentiment can sel- 



dom describe to their own satisfaction. I 29 

There have been several essays toward a picture of this 
community, --the best, perhaps, that brief one by Emer- 
son, published since his death in the volume called "Lec- 
tures and Biographical Sketches," where he says, --"The 
West Roxbury Association was formed in 1841; it bought a 
farm in West Roxbury, of about 200 acres, and took pos- 
session in April of that year. Mr. George Ripley was the 
president. Many members took shares by paying money; 
others held shares by their labor. An old house on the 
place was enlarged, and three new houses built. The work 
was distributed in orderly committees to the men and wom- 
en. There were many employments more or less lucra- 
tive found for or brought thither by these members, --shoe- 
makers, joiners, sempstresses. They had good scholars 
among them, and so received pupils for their education; 
the parents in some instances wished to live there, and 
were received as boarders. 

"Many persons, attracted by the beauty of the place and 
the culture and ambition of the community, joined as board- 
ers, and lived there for years. I think the numbers of this 
mixed community soon reached 80 or 90 souls. It consisted 
in the main of young people, — few of middle age, and none 
old. Those who inspired and organized it were persons 
impatient of the routine, the uniformity, --perhaps they 
would say, the squalid contentment of society around them; 
which was so skeptical of any progress. It was a noble and 
generous movement in the projectors to try an experiment 
of better living. At the same time it was an attempt to lift 
others with themselves, and to share the advantages they 
should attain, with others now deprived of them. There 
was nobleness; there was immense hope in these young 
people; there were self-sacrificing victims who compen- 
sated for the levity and rashness of their companions." 

I have cited only here and there from this sketch. Of 
the final result, Emerson said: "The society at Brook 
Farm existed about six or seven years, and then broke 
up; the farm was sold, and all the partners came out with 
pecuniary loss. Some of them had spent on it the accumu- 
lations of years. I suppose they all, at the moment, re- 
garded it as a failure. I do not think they can so regard 
it now; but probably as an important chapter in their ex- 
perience which has been of lifelong value. There is agree- 
ment in the testimony that it was to most of the associates, 
education; to many the most important period of their life, 
the birth of valued friendships, their first acquaintance 
with the riches of conversation, their training in behavior." 
This account deals rather with the earlier period of this 
community than with its Fourieristic later days, on which 
J. H. Noyes, in his "History of American Socialisms," 
has written the best comment I now recall. 

To be noticed particularly in this connection is the re- 
ligious and often ascetic feeling with which such communi- 
ties were then formed, and the strong political turn which 
Socialism now takes, --as in Nationalism, in strikes, and 
in other manifestations of what Mr. Carnegie might call 
(but does not) 'triumphant democracy." This is the age 
when the mass of the people feel their power and seek to 
exercise it for individual well-being. The contrast is 
striking between this condition and that in which George 
Ripley and Bronson Alcott acted, seeking, as they did, to 
reform and elevate the individual, in order that the whole 
people might be the gainers. F. B. Sanborn. 

Plymouth, Oct. 19. 



(94) 
RECOLLECTIONS OF ALCOTT AND 
CHOLMONDELEY 

Reflecting, during my late sea voyage, on the early 
events of a life now somewhat extended, I thought of my 
acquaintance, in college days, with Alcott, the original 
transcendentalist, whom I first met 40 years ago. He 
represented to me then the mystical parts of that philoso- 
phy, of which Theodore Parker stood for the learned and 
practical part, and Emerson, with whose books I had long 
been familiar, for the poetic element. It was not unusual 
for Mr. Alcott's friends to view him at that time with a 
certain humorous fancy, so much had he been laughed at 
in the newspapers; but in no such spirit did I approach 
him. His poverty and want of practical success did not 
lessen his worth in my estimation; nor did I ever have 
occasion to join in that vulgar disparagement of poetic 
and ideal natures, into which it is so easy to fall with 
respect to our contemporaries, but which we are slow 
to forgive when centuries have removed the temporary 
distinction between the brilliant success of Alcibiades 
and the tragic failure of Socrates. It will make little 
difference, even to the men of the 20th century, whether 
this Connecticut schoolmaster, this rejected schoolmas- 
ter of Boston, acquired wealth, or glory, or material 
power; for the busy merchants and the great centurions 
of New England will then be mostly forgotten, and have 
as little to show in practical result as this visionary of 
Concord. 

It was at a cottage not far from Agassiz's new house 
in Cambridge, Nov. 20, 1854, that Mr. Alcott, two years 
later, met some of my classmates and other college 
friends at dinner, and the conversation was important 
enough to be recorded in my brief journal of those days. 
He ate sparingly, though with a good appetite, declining 
meat, and had much to say to us. He complained of our 
naturalists that they begin with matter, whereas they 
should begin with spirit; thus, in the "Vestiges of Cre- 
ation," the author supposes mankind developed as a final 
product from inorganic matter. "This is wrong. The 
Deity does not work in this way, building up man out of 
matter, but man is rather a link between God and mat- 
ter. Matter is the refuse of spirit, --the residuum not 
taken up and made pure spirit. It is like a swarm of 
bees. They are conical, like the arrangement of things 
and man. All the bees depend on the queen bee- -so all 
matter depends on man. 

"This act in which we are now engaged is an instance 
of what I mean by the use of matter by spirit," he said. 
"Out of the food before us, each selects what is needful 
for him, and rejects the rest. So Spirit, selecting what 
is for its use, rejects the rest, and to it the refuse is 
matter . The naturalists are in doubt whether Deity made 
stone, or stone made Deity. Agassiz is a good observer, 
but he has a system of spines , from which he cannot dis- 
connect himself. The world to him is strung on a set of 
spines . It is better to say boldly that we are not formed 
from matter, but that we ourselves form it, --that the 
eye creates what it looks upon, the desires what they act 
upon, etc." "This is nearer the truth," said I. But Mr. 
Alcott seemed to imply that it was almost the exact truth. 
Turning to B. he said, "We are waiting for you theolo- 
gians to set forth this view, but you are slow to do it." 



130 
B. replied that the majority of men who listen to sermons 
would not understand a statement of this kind . "Shall we 
preach only to the few, while the many go uncared for?" 
"Can you ever preach to many at once," said Mr. Alcott, 
"and would you preach to the Irishman on the railroad, 
with his brain built of potatoes and such things? No, you 
must pass by Patrick and speak to the men who are before 
him; they will hand it down, until by and by Patrick will 
get it." 

We all demurred a little to this. I said the greatest 
minds found themselves equally appreciated by the high 
and the low. B. spoke of Christ's apostles, who were 
"Irishmen" in Mr. Alcott's signification. "Not at all," 
said he; "Christ made them what they were, to be sure, 
but he had good timber to make them of. They were not 
really common men. It is not the distinctions of society 
that I speak of, but those in the nature of man. How few 
there are who really hear a man. Those who do so must 
dine on him; you must eat him up to get the good of him. 
Nowadays men feed on Parker. He is strong meat to them: 
and they go away only to come back with an appetite for 
more. 'That was good,' they say, 'we must have some 
more of that.' It is not so much so with Emerson. He is 
a finer food." 

It was in this year 1854 that we made the acquaintance 
of Thomas Cholmondeley, that Oxford scholar and New 
Zealand sheep-farmer, who came to America not so much 
to see the country as to make the acquaintance of a few 
persons--Alcott, Emerson, Thoreau, Theodore Parker, 
Ellery Channing and Horace Greeley. He landed at New 
York and soon came to Concord, having letters to Emer- 
son, and there took a room with the Thoreau family for the 
sake of cultivating his taste for Henry Thoreau. I visited 
Concord from Cambridge Nov. 21st, 1854, and walked 
with Emerson through the Walden woods . He then told me 
of this Englishman, --an Oriel man and a Puseyite, who 
had been in Australia and written a book, "Ultima Thule," 
of his experiences there. 

"He is the son of a Shropshire squire," said Emerson, 
"and is travelling during his nonage. He is better acquaint- 
ed with things than most travelling Englishmen; they are a 
singularly verdant race . The Englishman who stays at 
home and attends to what he knows is one of the wisest of 
mankind; but their travellers are most unobservant and 
self-complacent. I asked this man if he saw any differ- 
ence between our autumn foliage and that of England. He 
said no, --but all men who have eyes notice it; ours is tu- 
lips and carnations compared with theirs. So, too, he told 
me he went to hear a Mr. Parker in Boston, --he thought 
him able, but was shocked at some of his doctrines. Chol- 
mondeley began then to talk to me about original sin and 
such things. I said, 'I see you are speaking of something 
which had a meaning once that is now grown obsolete. 
Those words formerly stood for something, and the world 
got good from them, but not now.'" Just then we met the 
man himself strolling back from Walden, and Mr. Emer- 
son invited him to dinner the next Saturday. 

Ten years after this, in 1864, Cholmondeley, who had 
inherited his property, married and taken the name of Owen, 
died in Florence. He was not buried there, but taken to 
England and interred in Condover churchyard in Shrop- 
shire, where his estate was. I hope to visit the spot next 
June and to revive there my recollections of a singularly 



noble and interesting Englishman, to whom Emerson in 
after years did more justice than in the first conversa- 
tion about him quoted above. Behind the veil of ritualism 
and modest manners which enveloped Cholmondeley there 
was "a learned and a manly soul," as Ben Jonson said, 

Which could the distaff and the shears control 
Of Destiny and spin its own free hours. 

It was but for a short time, however, that he had that 
power, and then, as Milton said of his youthful friend: 

Came the blind Fury with the abhorred shears 

And slit the thin-spun life. "But not the praise," 

Phoebus replied, and touched my trembling ears: 

"Fame is no plant that grows on mortal soil, 

Nor in the glistering foil 

Set off to the world, nor in broad rumor lies. 

As Jove pronounces last on every deed, 

Of so much fame in Heaven expect the meed." 

Granada, Nov. 18. F. B. Sanborn. 



(95) 
LOUISA ALCOTT'S FAME IN SWITZERLAND 

On this lake of Geneva, where I now tarry and make 
excursions for a few days, the memory of Byron, that 
earlier model for all such poets as Musset and Maupas- 
sant is still cherished, and few can look on the old castle 
of Chillon, which I am now passing on my way to Ville- 
neuve and Aigle, without thinking of Byron and his Prison- 
er. In the little salon of a lady where I took afternoon tea 
yesterday, among copies of Murillo's Assumption and Ary 
Scheffer's "Dante and Beatrice" and other paintings which 
her hand had exquisitely made, was a picture of Medora 
in the Corsair, gazing out over the Greek sea, --a remi- 
niscence of the Byronic period in which she had passed 
her youth. That literary period is now gone forever, and 
no French poet, such as Verlaine, with his dismal verses, 
can recall it to life. But he is still rated in Paris as a 
great poet, and is a candidate for the Academy- -this 
"French Swinburne," as somebody calls him. 

This is the birthday of three friends who have made 
their mark as authors--of Bronson Alcott, of his daugh- 
ter, Louisa, and of Ellery Channing, the poet. Of these 
three, only one is known in continental Europe, and she 
is almost as well known here as in America, and perhaps 
better than in England, --Miss Alcott. She sometimes 
passes here as an Englishwoman, --thus Mile. Alixe D. , 
who has read her "Petites Femmes," and who is a charm- 
ing little woman herself, on being told that I had known 
the Alcotts, expressed surprise, because, she said, 
"Mile. Alcott was English, I thought." The shades of 
difference between American and English life, very per- 
ceptible to those who speak the same language — or dia- 
lects of it- -fade away in the vast difference between ei- 
ther and the life of Swiss or French or German or Italian 
families. The niece of Miss Alcott, Louisa Meriker, 
whose father is a Swiss of Baden, is now living and carry- 
ing on her education at Zurich, where I visited her in 
1890, and hope to see her again next spring. 

Upon this last day but one of autumn it may be well to 



131 



note down what the weather is along these mountain slopes 
and beside this beautiful lake, which divides with the Gulf 
of Corinth the honor of being the most lovely sheet of water 
in Europe. There was a fine white frost this morning be- 
tween Lausanne and Chillon, such as we often have in Con- 
cord in mid-October; but in gardens the chrysanthemums 
and roses are still blooming. Snow lies low on the high 
mountains, but the wild flowers are to be gathered here 
and there and there is no thought as yet of the severe win- 
ter of our New England which, indeed, seldom visits these 
shores. The days are short; it is 8 o'clock before the sun 
shows his red face above the Dent du Midi and shines into 
my window of the Hotel du Mont Blanc at Morges--and he 
sets down the lake at 4 p.m. But in these long nights it 
does not grow very cold and the noondays are sunny and 
warm. Still, Switzerland is neither Italy nor Spain, nor 
yet Greece, where I expect to be when this reaches my 
readers. F. B. Sanborn. 

Lausanne, Nov. 29. 



(96) 
THE TRANSCENDENTALISTS AND THE STARS 

Thoreau, in one of his paradoxical essays still unprint- 
ed, speaking of the brave man, by which term he signified 
a Concord philosopher, said: "His bravery deals not so 
much in resolute action as in healthy and assured rest; its 
palmy state is a staying at home and compelling alliance 
in all directions. So stands his life to heaven, as some 
fair sunlit tree against the western horizon; and by sun- 
rise it is planted on some eastern hill, to glisten in the 
first rays of the dawn. The brave man braves nothing; 
nor knows he of his bravery. He is that sixth champion 
against Thebes, whom the poet described (when the proud 
devices of the rest have been recorded) as 'bearing a full- 
orbed shield of solid brass, '"-- 

But there was no device upon its circle, 
For not to seem just, but to be, is his wish. 

Thoreau goes on: "The golden mean, in ethics as in 
physics, is the centre of the system, and that about which 
all revolves; and, though to a distant and plodding planet 
it be the uttermost extreme, yet one day, when that plan- 
et's year is complete, it will be found to be central. We 
shall not attain to be spherical by lying on one or the other 
side for an eternity; but only by resigning ourselves to the 
law of gravity in us, shall we find our axis coincident with 
the celestial axis; and by revolving incessantly through all 
circles, acquire a perfect sphericity. Mankind, like the 
earth, revolve mainly from west to east, and so are flat- 
tened at the poles . But does not philosophy give hints of a 
movement, commencing to be rotary at the poles, too, 
which in a millennium will have acquired increased rapid- 
ity, and help restore our equilibrium? and when, at length 
every star in the nebulae and Milky Way, has looked down 
with mild radiance for a season, exerting its whole influ- 
ence as the polar star, the demands of science will in some 
degree be satisfied." 

How poets delight, as Dante did, to bring the stars and 
the spheres into their writings. Emerson in 1843, laugh- 
ing at Albert Brisbane, the American disciple of Fourier, 



mentions his description of "the self-augmenting potency 
of the solar system, which is destined to contain 132 bod- 
ies, I believe," and his urgent inculcation of our "stellar 
duties." But our transcendentalists interpreted the Eliza- 
bethan poet literally when he said, "Man is his own star"; 
and treated each other as one planet might deal with other 
fixed or wandering stars . Courage and Necessity were 
their familiar spirits; and so Thoreau says in the same 
essay: "The Romans made Fortune surname to Fortitudo; 
for fortitude is that alchemy which turns all things to good 
fortune. If we will, every bark may carry Caesar and 
Caesar's fortune. For an impenetrable shield, stand in- 
side yourself. He was no artist, but an artisan, who first 
made shields of brass . For armor of proof I wrap my- 
self in my virtue." 

Tumble me down, and I will sit 
Upon my ruins, smiling yet. 

"What first suggested that necessity was grim heads," 
"and made fate to be so fatal? Necessity is my eastern 
cushion, on which I recline. My eye revels in its pros- 
pect as in the summer haze; I ask no more but to be left 
alone with it. It is the bosom of Time and the lap of eter- 
nity. To be necessary is to be needful, and necessity is 
only another name for inflexibility of good. How I wel- 
come my grim fellow, and walk arm and arm with him! 
Let me, too, be such a necessity as he. I leap and dance 
in his midst, and play with his beard till he smiles. I 
greet thee, my elder brother! Who with thy touch en- 
noblest all things. Then it is holiday when naught inter- 
venes betwixt me and thee. Must it be so? then it is good. 
The stars are thy interpreters to me." 

This devotion to general necessity and to "stellar du- 
ties," sometimes, as in the case of ^sop's astrologer, 
made our Concord saints inattentive to earthly things. 
To one just leaving this charming Lake of Geneva, as I 
am bidding it farewell this morning, there is a peculiar 
force in that anecdote of St. Francis which Emerson re- 
lates in order to give point to one of his observations con- 
cerning his remarkable friend Alcott. Emerson wrote, 
many years since, "Alcott wanted to know why the boys 
waded into the water after pond lilies. 'Why, they will 
sell for a cent apiece, and every man and child likes to 
carry one to church for a cologne bottle.' 'What?' said 
he; 'have they a perfume? I did not know it.' Saint Fran- 
cis rode all day long along the border of the Lake of Ge- 
neva; at night, hearing his companions speak of the lake, 
he inquired, 'What lake?' Tis like Alcott's inquiry about 
the lilies." 

In relating this anecdote of St. Francis, it seems pos- 
sible that Mr. Emerson confounded him with another 
saint, Bernard of Clairvaux, whose biographer relates 
that he made a visit to Lausanne in the first half of the 
12th century. "He was returning to Geneva, his heart 
saddened by what he had just seen of the habits of the 
clergy and people of Savoy. The journey occupied all 
one day, as he rode on his beast followed by his compan- 
ions. At nightfall the saint heard his disciples convers- 
ing about this Lake Leman, which had much delighted 
their eyes. St. Bernard asked them 'Where, then, is 
this fine lake?' beside which he had been riding all day; 
and his disciples marvelled greatly at his question." It 



132 



is, of course, possible that a like legend may be extant 
concerning St. Francis and one of the Italian lakes. 

Dr. Francois Forel, a professor at Lausanne but living 
at Morges in an old abbaye , has given me to read on my 
voyage up the channel of Negropont, the Euripus of ancient 
and the Euripo of modern Greece — his little paper, written 
13 years ago, on a problem of the currents in this narrow 
channel between Boeotia and Euboea, beside which Aris- 
totle lived for years, and in which according to one fable, 
he drowned himself. I expect to be sailing across the Bay 
of Marathon and along those Boeotian shores, past Aulis, 
where poor Iphigenia died, and under the Euboean moun- 
tains, about the time that my readers receive this mis- 
sive, sent to them from the city of Calvin and the region 
of Rousseau and Voltaire. F. B. Sanborn. 

Geneva, Dec. 2 . 



(97) 
A NEW TRANSCENDENTALISM IN FRANCE 

Did I mention the other day that the circle of Parisian 
students and professors, to whom on the 6th of January the 
Swiss professor, Charles Secretan, expounded his philoso- 
phy, gave him a "complimentary punch" ( punch d'honneur ) 
and made speeches to him the next day? Such was the fact, 
according to the Revue Bleue of Paris, which says that 'the 
philosophical students of the academic department ( faculty 
des lettres) in the Normal School, those of the Protestant 
theological school, etc., under the auspices of their in- 
structors tendered a punch d'honneur to the able meta- 
physician who wrote 'The Philosophy of Liberty.'" They 
recognized, no doubt, that those who worked in the spirit 
should also live by the spirit, --if we may thus modify a 
familiar text. But the speeches made seemed to have been 
even more spirited than the lemonade, on this occasion. 

M. Vaugeois, one of the students, made a graceful com- 
plimentary address to the venerable philosopher, in which 
he said: "You are above all a moralist, since you have 
never been willing to divorce philosophy from practical 
morality. Not only have you devoted all your energies to 
the practice as well as to the inculcation of justice and 
goodness, but you have held that the purpose of philosophy 
is nothing else than to establish a theory of the universe 
broad enough to leave a place for moral obligation, how- 
ever contrary to logic that might appear. Moreover—and 
in this you will be judged by philosophers to have been 
strikingly original- -your solid reasoning has abstained 
from assuming the absolute freedom of God's will (per- 
ceived and recognized by your Christian consciousness) 
until you had strictly demonstrated the logical insufficiency 
and inconsistency of every other definition of eternal sub- 
stance." 

This then may be taken as the central point of this new 
Transcendentalism, which the French students contrast, 
characteristically, with the old German doctrine of the 
same tendency. The young orator, speaking for French- 
men and the French Swiss, went on to say: "However, this 
philosophy of liberty, --this affirmation of the Spirit, and 
of its claim to rank as the first principle and lawgiver of 
Nature- -would not have become a French doctrine if our 
countrymen (gradually accustomed as they have been to 
the obscurity, sometimes called the mistiness, of German 



philosophy) had not seen in French thinkers, with their 
lucid intelligence, the evidence (which they awaited with 
some doubt) that a system might be profound, and yet 
remain intelligible. To furnish this proof, it seems, 
genius was needed, and genius has appeared. Hence- 
forth French metaphysic has recovered its inheritance." 

This was courteously and wittily said, --for this young 
man has the French gifts of urbanity and style. He went 
on to point out the duty of young Frenchmen. "And now 
what shall we do- -we to whom such noble paths have been 
opened? Our duty is to remain strictly French in our phi- 
losophy, --that is to say, we must avoid the Scylla and 
Charybdis of a dry and superficial rationalism on the one 
side, and of vague mysticism on the other. Not that mys- 
ticism, in itself considered, ought to be condemned, --but 
we should only allow it to those who have the courage to 
make it their rule of life. For the rest of us, who only 
manipulate ideas ( simples manieurs d'idees ), our task is 
the humble and severe labor of stating our thought clearly 
without yielding any part of it. To think is nothing, --if 
you have a mind you must think. But to formulate and 
transmit thought, without perverting it, that is our task, 
if we would influence other minds." This is admirably 
said. 

How many in number this new school of French philoso- 
phy includes I have no means of guessing. But it has the 
future at its disposal, as the New England Transcenden- 
talists had for a half a century, say from 1830, when the 
influence of Charming was at its height, to 1880. I mean 
in New England and in America, --for to them was due 
the intellectual, social and political revolution which had 
accomplished itself a dozen years ago. We have since 
entered on another order of ideas in America, and Europe 
has now something to teach us, as Germany had a century 
ago. F. B. Sanborn. 

Athens, Jan. 29. 



(98) 
A TRIBUTE TO GEORGE WILLIAM CURTIS 
ATASHFIELD 

The annual Ashfield dinner, held yesterday after an 
intermission of two years, was altogether a success in 
spite of the great storm which drenched the whole country 
and deluged the roads, and then soaked and drizzled near- 
ly all day, keeping away many visitors and one of the 
speakers. The town hall was nearly full, however, and 
the occasion was quite worthy of that remarkable series 
of dinners which, as one of the speakers said, has made 
Ashfield a household word the country over. Joseph H. 
Choate, the great New York lawyer and famous wit, was 
unable to speak, being kept at home by the illness of a 
son, and Rev. Mr. Chadwick, the Brooklyn Unitarian 
preacher, was unable to drive over from his summer 
home at Chesterfield on account of the storm. But the 
other speakers promised were there, and notably Wayne 
MacVeagh, who paid an eloquent tribute to the memory 
of George William Curtis, whose place at the tables was 
sadly vacant, and Prof. Charles Eliot Norton of Harvard 
college, the master of ceremonies, who presided as usu- 
al. Other prominent people were present, among them 
J.J. Pinkerton of Washington, partner of Mr. MacVeagh, 



133 



and an intimate friend of Mr. Curtis; G. Stanley Hall, 
president of the Clark university, who was one of the 
speakers; Robert Minturn, a nephew of Mr. Curtis; Miss 
Curtis, his daughter; Miss Norton, a daughter of Prof. 
Norton; Mrs. Farragut, whose husband is son of the ad- 
miral, and her niece; and a daughter of Prof. Child of 
Harvard college. There were not quite so many people 
present from out of town as usual, but the townspeople 
turned out with especial interest on account of the memo- 
rial exercises to one whom they had known and esteemed 
as a neighbor. The fact that last year's dinner was omit- 
ted on account of the illness of Mr. Curtis also served to 
highten the interest. 



MR. SANBORN'S TRIBUTE TO MR. CURTIS 

During the exercises the chairman, Prof. Norton, . . . 
read this letter from F. B. Sanborn, Boston correspondent 
of The Republican: 

"You and your townsmen will not forget- -and how can I 
fail to remember- -that gracious presence which made for 
so many friends the special added attraction of Ashfield. 
It is five-and-twenty years since, for the first summer, I 
found him domesticated there and ready to show the charms 
of the region to such friends as were less familiar with 
them. Then, when youth, which kindly lingers long with 
the true-hearted, had not withdrawn her magic: 



sion and scorn, rather than betray a trust, or be false 
to a principle. 

"I have fancied that in these trials of his faith and 
patience, --hardly less severe because his buoyancy of 
disposition rose gallantly above them, --he found in this 
rural retreat of Ashfield, in the companionship of yeo- 
men and persons of simple and unambitious pursuits, and 
in the compensating and consoling influences of outward 
nature, that which his soul needed and without which he 
must sooner have yielded to that foe who lies in wait to 
subdue us all. And I am sure that he had unmixed satis- 
faction in what he could do in Ashfield to promote neigh- 
borly intercourse, to advance education and to hold up the 
standard which a model New England village has long dis- 
played to the world. It was with a certain ostentation that 
Plutarch of Cheronea said: 'I live in a small town, and I 
live there that it may not grow smaller.' George William 
Curtis would have said (if it had occurred to him to say 
anything on the subject): 'I live in Ashfield because this 
small town gives me something, and demands something 
of me in return, which does not exist in cities or would 
be sought there with too much loss of time and wear of 
spirit, --the kindly association of man with man, amidst 
the questions and replies of nature.' 

"And perhaps I am not wrong in thinking that your an- 
nual dinner will, hereafter, in part, commemorate this 
sweet and noble life that we have seen lived amidst its 
perennial trees and no less perennial institutions." 



In summer when the days were long, 

We walked together in the wood; 

Our hearts were light, our steps were strong, 

In summer when the days were long. 

The stanzas of this poem, which he loved to recite and re- 
call, never fail to remind me of him and of those years 
immediately following the agonies of the civil war, when 
the anxieties and triumphs of that strife were succeeded 
by the fulfilment of more than we had hoped to gain to the 
cause of Freedom, --to which he in his lofty path, and I, 
in my humbler way, had each devoted himself. We were 
members of a noble, victorious party, which had not then, 
as Goldsmith said of Burke, --'to party given up what was 
meant for mankind'--we were in the midst of successive 
civic struggles, each one of which ended in some measure 
of greater freedom for the long oppressed, --or of greater 
renown for the American name. To this stirring and happy 
period succeeded, in time, a weary, jarring season of sun- 
dered friendships, of political degeneracy, of thwarted 
plans, of discouraging struggles for truths that we had 
deemed beyond all reach of question, and for measures of 
common honesty and good faith. 

"I saw the character of Curtis tried in these two peri- 
ods, by all the varied temptations that political life in 
America can offer. They were powerless to turn him 
aside from the path of duty; often a lonely and cheerless 
road compared with that which a little more compliance, 
a little more silence, a little less honor and public spirit, 
would have allowed him to tread, escorting shouting ma- 
jorities and perhaps borne onward to high official station. 
For such station nature seemed to have marked him out 
and training had aptly fitted him; yet he turned away from 
that broad and easy highway, and accepted misapprehen- 



(99) 
SUMMER SCHOOLS AND SERIOUS INSTRUCTION 

When the schools for summer teaching and conference 
began, 15 or 20 years ago, there was much criticism of 
them by the profound scholars and philosophers who tell 
us what to think, in the daily and weekly newspapers, on 
the ground that they were teaching many things superfi- 
cially, and nothing seriously. So far as this criticism 
was well founded, --and there was something in it, --it 
applied equally to the system of college and university 
instruction then in vogue; for though the periodical ex- 
aminations in those institutions did something to fix the 
instruction more deeply in the student's mind, the lack 
of these in the summer schools, was fully made up by the 
more mature age and greater earnestness of the hearers 
at the sessions of science, philosophy, and literary dis- 
cussion in Chautauqua, Cambridge, Concord and else- 
where. As the plan of the university studies, outside of 
universities, has developed itself since, this criticism 
(still occasionally heard) has lost the little force it once 
had, and might now be suffered to go the way of so many 
other bits of solemn fault-finding, in which the able editor 
indulges himself from time to time, in order to show the 
world how superior he is, in his universality, to the spe- 
cialist in his specialty. 

Perhaps as good an illustration of what we are saying 
as any now at hand is the arithmetical statement of Dr. 
Adler, in closing the ethical school at Plymouth lately. 
He said that the number of those who had heard lectures 
there this year, for a week or more, had been 200; and 
that of these, 50 were instructors in school or college, 
30 were clergymen, and a much larger number than in 



134 



former years were graduate students of our colleges. In 
other words, the majority of those who went to Plymouth to 
hear, and not simply to entertain themselves, were serious 
students, who had at heart the instruction of others, and 
were there for the purpose of clearing their own doubts, 
extending their knowledge, and conferring with others to 
whom this or that subject is a specialty. This numerical 
evidence, which might be furnished at most of the summer 
schools, from the Concord school of philosophy and litera- 
ture (the model in many respects, of those that have sprung 
up since it opened modestly in the Alcott library, in 1879) 
down to the latest eastern, western, southern or Pacific 
coast "university extension, "--shows the unthinking what 
the thoughtful observer knew before, --that this new form 
of study is an ascent, and not a coming down in education. 
The summer schools are not so much a condescension to 
the ignorant and pleasure-loving, as an appeal to the ear- 
nest-minded, to give their long vacation to something be- 
sides sea-bathing, tally-ho coaching, tennis playing and 
flirtation. They are a modern form of the old lyceum lec- 
tures and debates, — an institution which wrought uncounted 
good for New England and the outside communities that 
adopted it, in the first half of the present century. 

Again recurring to the Plymouth school, we note that 
the lecturers there were, almost without exception, spe- 
cialists of some eminence in their specialty, --capable, 
therefore, of what most of them did, --to instruct or in- 
form the minds of their hearers on points of much impor- 
tance, either of modern life, or of that history of the past 
which has brought us into our present ethical, economic, 
or religious condition. Their interpretations of that his- 
tory were warped, usually (as commonly happens) by their 
present theories, or the course of former studies; he that 
had been ecclesiastic was ecclesiastic still, and the Hegel- 
ian, like the Ethiopian, could not be washed into any other 
historical color. But, on the whole, they were helped in 
their touching infirmities of infallibility by contact with 
other minds, and by the necessity of conforming to the ec- 
lectic spirit of the school. This would have been promoted 
by what the Plymouth managers have never seen their way 
clear to adopt, --the brief debates of the Concord school, 
which often threw so much light on the obscurities of meta- 
physical statement, and brought the lecturer down from 
his ex-cathedral soliloquy, to the exigencies of question 
and answer. The dangers always threatening such free- 
dom of debate, --the inanities of the crank and the vain- 
glorious, --and the wrathful personalities of the learned, -- 
were most averted at Concord, and would as easily have 
been escaped at Plymouth, with a little prudence and tact 
in the presiding functionary. At Plymouth, however, no- 
body except the lecturer usually presided; a custom which 
might well be changed in future. 

About 30 persons lectured in the Plymouth school, in- 
cluding the five who spoke to general audiences on Sun- 
days; but not reckoning Mrs. Cheney, Col. Higginson and 
the Oriental monk, Vivekananda, who addressed other gen- 
eral audiences at the two sessions of the Free Religious 
association in the last week. These last were heard by 
most of the students at the school, but they in no sense 
made part of it, --although there was great propriety in 
their meeting at Plymouth; since it was at Leyden hall in 
that town, 42 years ago, that Marston Watson and his Ply- 
mouth friends organized free religious Sunday lectures, 



by Emerson, the Cnannings, Higginson, Wendell Phillips, 
etc. --long before Prof. Norton, O. B. Frothingham, Mrs. 
Cheney and others organized the present association in 
1869. One of the most striking lecturers at the ethical 
school, Prof. J. Estlin Carpenter of Manchester college 
in English Oxford, spoke also at the Free Religious meet- 
ings; he is one of the few Oriental scholars of England 
who are profoundly versed in Pali literature, --the sacred 
books of which (Buddhistic) he is now associated with Rhys 
Davids in editing and publishing. Among the 30 lecturers 
of the school, Prof. Carpenter spoke on Buddha and his 
religion, --a topic somewhat remote from those railroad 
and political questions discussed by Profs. Adams, Clark, 
Giddings and Jenks, and by President Andrews of Brown, 
and Dr. Holland of St. Louis. But so wide was the scope 
of this comprehensive course of instruction that the inter- 
esting lore of ancient India, and the recent investigations 
of the London labor commission, briefly presented by its 
secretary, Mr. Drage, both found a place therein. So 
did the remarks of John Graham Brooks on recent French 
literature, and the eminence of Melchuor de Vegue, who 
now stands at the head of critical and moral essayists in 
Paris, as Sainte Beuve and Taine did in their day. This 
variety of instruction, instead of dissipating the attention 
of students, only increases the breadth of their culture, 
in which all the summer schools are doing so much. 



(100) 
THE LATE GRDOALL REYNOLDS 

Harvard university last summer conferred a doctorate 
of divinity on this parish minister, of late years the secre- 
tary of the Unitarian association, who died at Concord on 
Sunday, after an illness of two or three weeks. He was 
the son of a Revolutionary soldier, who married late in 
life, and he was born at the old Franconia iron works in 
New Hampshire late in 1822; but the family belonged in 
Boston, and the unusual Christian name, which was also 
his father's, came down from the time of that Archbishop 
Grindall, who was chaplain in his youth to the martyr Rid- 
ley, and successor in his bishopric to the infamous Bon- 
ner; and in the primacy of England to the covetous Parker. 
Dr. Reynolds was neither inclined to martyrdom nor cor- 
ruption: he was of that robust English type of mind and 
body that is so often preserved amid the supposed changes 
of the New England climate and mode of life. Beginning 
his career as a merchant's clerk, he had yet a turn for 
scholarship and the pulpit, and entered the Unitarian di- 
vinity school at Cambridge in 1844, in the same class 
with T. W . Higginson and W . R . Alger . Graduating in 
1847, he entered the ministry at once, in the suburban 
parish of Jamaica Plain, from which in 1859, after a 
service of 10 years, he was transferred to the old First 
Parish of Concord, which, since the Revolution, has 
prided itself on settling its ministers for life. 

And there, indeed, he continued to reside, after ac- 
cepting the office which he has so well filled for 13 years, 
of managing the missionary and secular affairs of the de- 
nomination to which he belonged, by training and by choice. 
President Eliot, last June, in naming him to the audience 
in Saunders theater as the future D.D., appropriately de- 
scribed him as "in sacred ministrations a fluent orator 



135 



and prudent man of affairs, appointed by the Unitarians to 
direct their business, and doing it excellently well." These 
are the qualities of a bishop, and for such duties were bish- 
ops chosen in the earlier days of the Christian church, be- 
fore they undertook to determine what creed men should 
outwardly profess or what garments and ritual they should 
use, --thus leavening the reformed religions with the old 
and bitter leaven of the Pharisees. 

To such virtues Dr. Reynolds added modesty and be- 
nevolence; a neighborly spirit, remote from dictation and 
averse to controversy; patience under trials, by no means 
lacking in a New England village with a high conceit of it- 
self, and a general community rather prone to intolerance 
and extreme views, --a sound style of writing, and a taste 
for exact history rather than for speculative opinions in 
theology or philosophy. These also are English traits, -- 
and we might say Christian, had not the majority of con- 
spicuous Christians, from St. Peter down to the Holy Syn- 
od of Russia, distinguished themselves for vehemence, 
quarreling, and the hair-splitting of polemical theology, — 
spiced with the tyranny of intolerance and the pettiness of 
bigotry. From these, as from the temptations of original- 
ity and self-aggrandizement, the deceased was happily set 
free by the moderation of his nature, and a sense of equity, 
which even the ambitious would cultivate, if they knew how 
much it would add to the renown and sorrow of their death. 

Concord, October 1, 1894. F. B. S. 



(101) 
FURTHER THOUGHTS CONCERNING HOLMES 

The death of Dr. Holmes is a national bereavement. 
The first view of his life's significance will undoubtedly 
be the last-- it was as the wit and the poet that his title to 
remembrance was earned and will be maintained. The 
wit, even, must drop out of sight, since wit is so inevita- 
bly based upon transient things, and Holmes's no less than 
Butler's or Hood*s--it was better than the wit of either of 
these, or of many others who might be named, and that by 
virtue of the more essential and enduring quality of humor, 
which is so mixed with the deepest earthly feeling of which 
we are capable that when it is possessed in common with 
wit and runs in harness with it, as it does in Holmes's 
verse, the swifter and more transient intellectual fire is 
preserved by the emotional glow of that which has its es- 
sential abiding in all that we are. We admire the wit, but 
after all, the humorist commands our heart, --for he is 
always on the verge of pathos . This it is which gives 
Holmes's "The Last Leaf" its perennial charm, which 
made it a favorite poem with Abraham Lincoln, that man 
of infinite humor, who often out of his own heart repeated 
that stanza: 

The mossy marbles rest 
On the lips that he has prest 

In their bloom; 
And the names he loved to hear 
Have been carved for many a year 

On the tomb. 

Dr. Holmes was not willing to be spoken of as pre- 
eminently the wit; he desired to be known as poet; and 



no doubt Lowell's clever characterization of him in 1848 
had much to do in fixing his reputation where it had then 
been earned; for it is still quoted as if it measured Holmes, 
though it was 10 years later that Holmes really entered up- 
on the serious work of authorship and produced such work 
as he would prefer to be known by. The Fable for Critics 
has had far too conclusive an acceptance with the reading 
public. Holmes was in truth a philosopher of the Democ- 
ritan school in large measure; he saw the weaknesses and 
errors of our common nature, but saw them as phases 
that passed, were absorbed and vanished, leaving the soul 
still in the way of progress and in the ultimate divine. He 
was always the optimist. No depressing word was ever 
uttered by this profound thinker, who without assuming 
one dogmatic position, yet always held before him the 
postulate of the spiritual growth upward. Life, long or 
short, here or hereafter, was regarded by him as essen- 
tially here and ultimately beyond, full of ardor, earnest- 
ness, and joy. Gloom had no place in his poetry or in his 
religion, and when he darted satiric arrows against old 
theologies and schemes of the universe, --as he did fre- 
quently in his Breakfast Table papers and in his occasion- 
al poems- -it was because he believed in the illimitable 
divine purpose in human destiny. It has been said that 
he was not truly appreciative of Emerson, but let those 
that think so read his memoir of the Concord sage . There 
were subtleties in the Emersonian philosophy which he 
never reached, but he was entirely in sympathy with the 
ripened outcome of it all. 

But Holmes had another career that was quite different, 
and yet from whose experiences were derived a great part 
of the strength of his literary work, in whose teachings in- 
hered that psychological insight which makes the strength 
of all those charming, vivacious, vigorous essays which 
now represent Holmes to the world. Nothing is long ad- 
mired whose underlying foundation is not substantial, and 
Holmes did not build on a shallow surface when he wrote 
the inimitable Autocrat, Professor and Poet series. The 
flowers bloom and the ferns grace and the trees lord it 
over the mountains and the vales, but beneath them is the 
stern rock, and they grow out of the soil that has disinte- 
grated from that rock to give them foothold. So under- 
neath the graceful, witty, humorous, tender and philo- 
sophic sayings of Oliver Wendell Holmes lie the Puritan 
inheritance and the scientific training which were his. 

The title of Doctor sometimes lingers with a man be- 
cause of early years when he wore it as a professional 
badge, but Dr. Holmes wore it because it belonged to 
him. He was a physician in full practice when the invita- 
tion to write for the new Atlantic Monthly came to him . 
He had studied medicine thoroughly in Boston, Edinburg 
and Paris. He had been professor of anatomy and physi- 
ology in Dartmouth college, and he was Parkman profes- 
sor of physiology and anatomy when James Russell Low- 
ell, his neighbor at Cambridge and fellow professor of 
Harvard college, insisted that he should help launch the 
new magazine to represent New England culture. His 
reputation as physician was already earned, and he never 
ceased his devotion to his profession, closing his connec- 
tion with the Harvard medical school not quite 12 years 
ago. There was no more thorough or more efficient 
teacher in that school than Holmes. When he bade fare- 
well to his class in November, 1882, he could count 36 



136 



courses of lectures In anatomy to succeeding classes . His 
last class gave him a loving cup, and when he received It 
he coupled It with an heirloom of a silver teapot which had 
descended to him from a collateral ancestor five genera- 
tions before--a tutor of Harvard during 55 years. Thus 
the inheritance of scholastic generations joined his own 
acquirements and labors in an ideal way. 

The poet might also have been a scientific investigator 
and inventor in other fields, had time and opportunity co- 
incided. He it was who perfected the stereoscope, and no 
one will forget who read it his delightful Atlantic paper on 
the revelations of this instrument when it was new. It is 
rather odd that we should think so little of the stereoscope 
now, and be quite as content with the simple photograph of 
scenery and portraiture, when without question the stereo- 
scope is of vastly greater value, as restoring to the photo- 
graph the virtue of perspective which no single picture 
possesses. Dr. Holmes also made great improvements 
in the microscope. These and other things of the sort 
which he accomplished were small incidents in his life as 
a teacher, and he placed no stress on them. In his book 
on "Mechanism in Thought and Morals," he called the at- 
tention of readers to the singular disposition of the mind 
to automatism, as evident in the acceptance of dicta in 
opinion as in our daily physical movements. It indicated 
how largely our mental operations are akin to the physical, 
and proportionately how insecure is the common identifica- 
tion of the mind with the spirit of man. 

There should also be something said concerning Holmes 
as a patriot. What he was in this aspect is too little known, 
because his numerous papers in the Atlantic Monthly in the 
war period are not yet gathered into a book. But these pa- 
pers are extremely interesting and must have had much 
influence in those days. His poems in war time make but 
a few pages in his book of collected poems, but strewn un- 
der other heads are a considerable number of very emphat- 
ic verses which were as striking as any that were written 
during the war. He was not ardent in the anti-slavery 
cause, and he was never in accord with the abolitionists. 
But when the rebellion was manifest he was in evidence at 
once. 



(102) 
PERSONAL MEMOIRS-— BROOK FARM AND 
JOHN BROWN 

Two volumes have lately been published at Boston and 
New York which are personal memoirs of men and events 
of serious moment in the history of the country- -J. T. Cod- 
man's "Brook Farm" and R.J. Hinton's "John Brown and 
His Men." To the average American, --we will not say, as 
Sydney Smith did of his commonplace countrymen, "the 
average British fool,"- -no, but to the every-day Yankee, 
the enterprise of George Ripley, Minot Pratt and Charles 
A. Dana at Brook Farm half a century ago appeared like 
the action of simpletons. In the same way, but with more 
anxiety and anger mixed with his contempt for their folly, 
the ordinary American viewed the purpose and deeds of 
Brown in Virginia, 35 years since, as idiocy or frenzy. 
Yet the verdict of time on both these enthusiasms- -of the 
association at West Roxbury, and of Brown's little band 
at Harper's Ferry — is that they were of more value than 



qualities that seemed much saner and more practical at 
the moment. Both movements were foreordained to fail- 
ure, --that of the Brook Farmers to slow death by inani- 
tion, --that of Brown and his men to the swift revenge of 
bullet and scaffold; but out of these failures large success 
afterward came. 

The story of ideal life at Brook Farm has never been 
adequately told, nor has it been now by Mr. Codman, 
whose book is before us. He has all good-will to the 
work; he lived under the direction of Messrs . Ripley and 
Dana for years; he was at the impressible age of 18, he 
saw and heard much; but he lacks the power of general- 
izing what came under his notice. His descriptions of 
person or event are often good, but the total effect of his 
writing is vague and sentimental. True, the experiment 
itself was sentimental and vague; but it had a deep reason 
behind it, and its historian should be able to state that, 
and draw the due inferences . More sound inferences and 
far fewer puns would make the book better; as It is, it 
lacks seriousness, and will hardly remove the mist of 
exaggeration and ridicule which Hawthorne's dismal nov- 
el ("The Blithedale Romance") and the scoffs of the well- 
dressed Bostonian of the period cast around the commu- 
nity of the Ripleys, Dwights, Mortons and other serious- 
minded New England reformers. Yet it contributes facts 
of some value and shows that, in Mr. Codman's case, as 
in George William Curtis 's, and so many more, the charm 
of that community was never lost in the bustle and strug- 
gle of later life . The book is published by the Arena 
company of Boston, and is well worth reading. 

Col. Hinton has the advantage of coming after several 
industrious biographers of Brown, whose material he has 
freely used, and from whom he has taken what must be 
the chief part of any biography of the Kansas hero, Brown's 
own terse and apt speeches, sayings and letters. But Hin- 
ton also furnishes much that is new, especially in regard 
to the companions of Brown in Virginia, many of whom he 
personally knew, while of others he has carefully searched 
out the story. Richard Hinton was himself a ready actor 
and useful writer in the stirring drama of Kansas, from 
1855 till the civil war closed. Born in England, he came 
hither early, and found his way to Lawrence and Osawato- 
mie as a newspaper correspondent, at a time when the 
truth about affairs in Kansas was very important to the 
friends of freedom. He cast in his lot with the free-state 
settlers, was intimate with John Brown- -which itself was 
an education, and has not learned, like some other Kan- 
sas celebrities, to make history turn on his own whims 
and vanities . He rose to be a commander of colored 
troops in the war, did good service, and has allowed 
others to praise him, instead of writing thick volumes 
to praise himself. 

The purpose of Col. Hinton's book is truth, and though 
one may note errors here and there, they are mostly of 
slight consequence . He has made a valuable contribution 
to history, and has reinforced his lack of strict method 
by a well-prepared index. His publishers are Funk & 
Wagnalls of New York. 




137 



(103) 
THOUGHTS ON WHITTIER 



To New Englanders and to others who have been lovers 
of Whittier's verse, the authorized "Life and Letters" will 
be a fascinating book; to foreigners and the coming century 
it may prove a disappointment. It presents him as a poli- 
tician and man of many affairs , rather than as poet or man 
of letters; yet it was in the latter character that he won his 
strong hold on his public. Indeed, one ill result of a long 
life, when it comes to be summed up, is that it cannot be 
presented, usually, as all of a piece; in the career of 80 
years there was much room for a variety of parts; and 
these, even in his quiet Quaker life, Whittier played. His 
incessant political activity, beginning before he was 20, 
and continuing for half a century, brought him sometimes 
into queer company, --that of Caleb Cushing, for a dozen 
years at least, --and though Caleb had not then begun "to 
court the seenoreetas" (as Hosea Biglow said) nor to cham- 
pion slavery, he was essentially, from the first, the same 
unprincipled politician that he was found to be in middle 
life. Rantoul, with whom also Whittier was much associ- 
ated, was of a very different stamp. It reads oddly enough 
now, that Whittier, in despair of Sumner's election as sen- 
ator in 1851, urged him to withdraw, and allow a new coa- 
lition (with the whigs) by which Gov. Briggs should be sent 
to the Senate, in place of Winthrop and Webster. Briggs 
was a good man, but no more of the senatorial wood than 
William Washburn was in 1874, when he succeeded Sum- 
ner. Stranger still is it to learn, on Whittier's authority, 
that in 1843, when the liberty party had prevented the re- 
election of Gov. Davis, by their vote for S. E. Sewall, the 
latter "came within a hair's breadth of being governor; but 
for half a dozen refractory members, the whig party in 
the Legislature would have voted for him." The attitude of 
Whittier toward Gen. Butler is not here dwelt upon, --but 
there were times when the poet was not so averse to the 
political weathercock from Lowell as most of his friends 
were. 

The prose style of Whittier was earlier acquired than 
his poetic measures, --the latter, indeed, like the former, 
were reached by imitation and practice, rather than by 
originality. His excellence as poet was not in his verse, 
but in the spirit of his work; the verse was usually second- 
rate, and often below even that. He was captivated by the 
easy meters, having an ear for rhythm, but not a nice or 
exacting one. His strength was in moral earnestness, so 
often sadly to seek in melodious poets, --and in his clear 
eye and abundant love for the New England scenery and 
character. Good sense, with no little humor, was also 
his great characteristic; the two appear charmingly in the 
letters and sayings given by Mr. Pickard. To the woman 
who said she was "sent," Whittier said, "If thee art sent 
of God, then thee art welcome; I welcome anything from 
God. But have thee no concern about thyself, as compared 
with the infinite purity of God?" She said, "That is not the 
question that concerns me; I have shifted the whole respon- 
sibility on to Christ." It would have been singular, Whit- 
tier replied, if when Christ told the disciples to watch and 
pray, they had said, "We have shifted that over to you, and 
it does not concern us." He then "asked the woman what 
her neighbors thought of her, but she did not answer this 
pertinent inquiry." "Alas," he says elsewhere, "I have 



been an unprofitable servant; and yet I have loved good- 
ness, and longed to bring my poetic temperament into 
true subjection." 

Careful as Mr. Pickard is, his dates are sometimes 
wrong, and he has not wholly cleared up the slight doubt 
raised by genealogists against the poet's descent from 
Rev. Stephen Bachiler, the ancestor of Webster and many 
other Americans. The fact is asserted, and the line is 
traced through Christopher Hussey, who married Theo- 
date, daughter of the old minister; but Hussey's record 
is not correctly given. He was never a citizen of Haver- 
hill, as stated by Mr. Pickard, but when he sat in the 
Massachusetts General Court it was as representative 
from Hampton, N.H., where he spent his life after Octo- 
ber, 1638, and where he died March 6, 1686, at the age 
of nearly 90; for Savage is wrong in saying he was lost on 
the coast of Florida in 1685. If any Hussey was so lost, 
it may have been a Christopher, son of Christopher, or 
grandson, --for John Hussey, son of Christopher, removed 
from Hampton to Delaware in 1692, and his brother or 
nephew may have preceded him and been lost in a voyage . 
Nor did the Husseys come from Boston, Eng. , but from 
Dorking; nor was Susanna Bachelder, the grandmother of 
Webster, the daughter of the old minister's son, as stat- 
ed by Mr. Pickard, but of his great-grandson, Benjamin 
Bachelder, who lived on the farm in Hampton Falls next to 
that where I was born. A perusal of Miss Dow's history 
of Hampton (herself a descendant of Bachiler and Hussey) 
would have set the biographer right on these points . Nei- 
ther could it have been in 1652 that T. Whittier and Maj. 
Pike were censured for petitioning in behalf of Quakers, 
--for no Quakers were seen in Massachusetts till 1656. 
In the present age of exact dates and historical research, 
such errors ought not to occur, and will no doubt be cor- 
rected in the next edition of this popular book. It is true 
the two Puritans in whose behalf Pike spoke, and Whittier 
and Hussey petitioned, afterward became Quakers; and 
also true that Hussey, a large landholder, owned land for 
a few years in Haverhill, as he may have done in Nan- 
tucket . The story of Pike and his petitioners is fully told 
in J. S. Pike's memoir of his ancestor, and is instructive. 

Few of the critics have commented on the fact that Whit- 
tier was first of all and for most of his life till after 60, a 
journalist. His good prose style, simple, clear and fetch- 
ing, was learned in journalism; even his poetry was, from 
first to last, newspaper poetry. He knew its quality very 
well, and allowed a large part of all he wrote to pass from 
sight, --it was merely the school exercise of his art. His 
political efficiency was likewise that of the skilful journal- 
ist, and reminds me of Mr. Bowles's, of Greeley's and 
that of so many able editors who have put their hands to 
the political plow. In case of Whittier, too, he did not, 
after the few early years of journalism, sigh for political 
office; rather, like Mr. Bowles, he avoided it. One sur- 
prise from the story of his life is that he traveled about 
his native land so much; nor was he the shy, unsocial per- 
son he has sometimes been depicted. A certain shyness 
he had by inheritance on the paternal side, --for neither 
Stephen Bachiler nor his descendants have been much not- 
ed for bashfulness, after the years of boyhood, when every 
child that is worth his salt is bashful; but there was a 
marked "sociability" in Whittier, as this agreeable book 
shows in every chapter. His infirm constitution made 



138 



him avoid some social duties, but more pleasures; and it 
is interesting to see how early his feeble health began and 
how little it prevented him from reaching old age; for he 
was nearly 85 when he died in Hampton Falls. The pleas- 
ant old Quaker house where he died, as well as the older 
homestead of his birth, is beautifully shown in the illus- 
trations . 



(104) 
SAMUEL STAPLES, THE CONCORD SHERIFF 

The death of Samuel Staples of Concord, at a good old 
age among his orange groves in Florida, removes a well- 
known figure from Concord and Boston, where he has been 
active in many capacities for nearly or quite 60 years. He 
was born in Mendon, but he came to Concord in the latter 
years of old Dr. Ripley and the youth of Henry Thoreau, 
and at first held the humble position of stable boy at the 
village tavern (the Middlesex house) kept by Wesson, 
whose daughter he afterward married. He grew up in the 
atmosphere of courts and taverns --a climate favorable to 
deputy sheriffs and began active life as constable, sheriff 
and jail-keeper's deputy, under old Capt. Moore, --the 
Capt. Abel, or Capt. Hardy of Emerson's description of 
his neighbor's farming. His name (Staples) was singu- 
larly apt for a jailer, in that old Concord stone dungeon, 
where iron rings were in the granite floor to chain the 
murderer or burglar, or insane man locked up there. But 
there was nothing cruel or even severe about the young 
jailer himself, --who had for prisoners at different times 
Bronson Alcott and Thoreau, — though the former was never 
locked in, and Thoreau only for a night. This was nearly 
50 years ago, --Alcott's arrest was in 1843, indeed. His 
offense was the non-payment of a small tax: and, as Tho- 
reau wrote to Emerson in January, '43, Sam Staples, when 
asked by Helen Thoreau what Mr. Alcott's idea was in go- 
ing to jail rather than pay a tax to support slavery, made 
this answer: "I vum, I believe 'twas nothing but principle, 
for I never heerd a man talk honester ." Rather a contrast 
to recent transactions in Concord, where $14,000 in taxes 
disappeared, and nobody went to jail for it. 

I fancy if Mr . Staples had been sheriff this year (he gave 
up the office 28 years ago), the late affair would have tak- 
en a different turn; though he was an honorable jailer, and 
when he met a man in public who had been his prisoner, he 
did not embarrass him by recognition. Like most sheriffs, 
he soon became a politician, and in 1847 was elected to the 
Legislature over the present Judge Keyes, with whom and 
with Mr. Bull, the inventor of the Concord grape, and Si- 
mon Brown, afterward lieutenant-governor, Mr. Staples 
became active in the know-nothing party of 1854-6; going 
again to the Legislature as their representative. This did 
not prevent him from winning the Irish votes in 1882, when 
he was chosen by the Butler party to the House again, and 
did good service there on the prison committee. His po- 
litical partisanship hung loose about him, and he was as 
near an independent, or natural mugwump, as any of his 
townsmen; though always good-natured about it. He was 
the general friend of the shiftless and the unbusinesslike, 
and took care of the property of more persons in Concord 
than any other man, --without ever being suspected of put- 
ting it in his own pocket. But he prospered in life, and 



came to be one of the esteemed property-holders, neither 
putting on airs, nor varying the piquant colloquialisms of 
his conversation. The sour and hard fanaticism of some 
neighbors, and the easy morals of others did not move 
him to wrath, though they sometimes called forth his en- 
ergetic criticism. He was long a neighbor of Mr. Em- 
erson, and they did each other mutual good offices; the 
same was true of the Alcott family. He became a mem- 
ber of the century-old "Social Circle" in 1856, and at his 
death only two or three of his associates of that date sur- 
vive him. At his first marriage, in 1840, Mr. Emerson 
was the officiating clergyman, Mr. Alcott was present as 
a witness; by his second marriage he became interested 
in orange -growing, and has latterly spent the most of the 
winters in Florida, where he died. 



(105) 
CAROLINE FOX ON EMERSON AND ALCOTT 

Some cynical man, speaking of the reasoning of women, 
said the quantity of their argumentation could not be found 
fault with, --but there was some defect in the quality. The 
reverse is true of the journalizing of gifted women; its 
quality is far more noticeable than its quantity, — that is, 
a man will spend much more time in recording events or 
characters, and will not usually hit the mark so true, after 
all. Even poor Marie Bashkirtseff, with all her desperate 
vanity, gave the world something useful in her journals; 
and much more the present Russian heroine, Sonia Kova- 
levski. More remarkable than either was that English 
Quakeress, Caroline Fox, whose journals and fragmen- 
tary letters were printed before the death of Emerson and 
Alcott, and (possibly for that reason) suppressed and dis- 
guised a little the passages relating to these American ac- 
quaintances of the Carlyles, from whom Caroline Fox got 
much of her information about our countrymen- -not al- 
ways in its best form . If she met Emerson when he was 
in England in 1847-8, she does not mention the fact in her 
journal, as printed. Nor did she see Bronson Alcott dur- 
ing his brief visit to England in 1842, but she quotes Car- 
lyle's account of him several times, without naming him. 
Thus, in May, 1842, at the age of 23, she called on the 
Carlyles at Chelsea, and thus reports concerning Emer- 
son and his vegetarian friend: 

Got somehow to Emerson, who is quietly but deeply in- 
fluencing a few, both in England and America. In Ameri- 
ca he is indeed a great phenomenon: he must live and feel 
and think (says Carlyle) apart from public opinion, on the 
adamantine basis of his own manhood. The Carlyles like 
his conversation much better than his books, which they 
think often obscure and involved, both in conception and 
execution. (He had then published only "Nature" and the 
"Essays.") I remarked in the democratic way in which he 
had leveled all ranks and subjects, and holy and unholy 
personages. "Why," Carlyle answered, 'they are all 
great facts, and he treats each of them as a fact, of value 
rather with reference to the whole than to any precon- 
ceived theory. I was amused, on asking Daniel Webster 
about him the other day" (really in June, 1839, when Web- 
ster was in England), 'to hear him say, 'Oh, do you mean 
the Socinian minister?* You see he has no vote in Con- 



139 



gress, no recognized authenticated outward influence. 
He is going to send me a man called B-- (Bronson Alcott), 
who is coming over with some 'new ideas' about making a 
new world but it hasn't seemed to strike him that he has a 
world within his own waistcoat, which would employ all his 
thought and energy, if he would but give it." Carlyle gave 
me a number of the Dial, which Emerson has marked and 
sent him as a good sample of the tone and struggling na- 
ture of earnest American thought. 

Carlyle's remark, before he had seen Alcott shows hpw 
little he knew of the man, who was much more occupied 
with "a world within his own waistcoat" than Carlyle ever 
was, except in the sense of coddling his own dyspepsia. 
Later, John Sterling (July 28) quoting Carlyle, said: "The 
American regenerator of his species (Alcott) of whom he 
talked to us, has been with Carlyle; he finds that his nos- 
trum for the ills of life is a simple agricultural life and a 
vegetable diet. They had him at their house; gave him 
various accommodating dishes; but, as he could not make 
Carlyle a believer in vegetables, he left him in despair." 
Later still, in 1846, Carlyle wrote to Caroline (or said to 
her) about Alcott: "My American acquaintance proceeded 
from vegetable diet to vegetable dress, and could not in 
conscience wear woolen or leather; so he goes about Bos- 
ton in a linen dress and wooden shoes, though the ice stand 
there many feet against the houses" (a singular notion of 
Boston). "I never could see much in him, but only an un- 
alterable belief in himself, as if he alone were to bear the 
weight of the universe ." (A singular contradiction of his 
earlier judgment, that Alcott did not notice the "world 
within his own waistcoat.") So when he said to London, 
with all its businesses, and iniquities, and vast machinery 
of life, 'Be thou other than thou are,' he seemed quite sur- 
prised that it did not obey him." "I remarked," said C. 
Fox, "on its being rather a tendency among American 
thinkers to believe more intensely in man than in God; 
Carlyle said, 'Why, yes; they seem to think that faith in 
man is the right sort of faith.'" 

It will be interesting to see what Alcott said (in a letter 
to his wife) about Carlyle, in June, 1842: "I rode to Chel- 
sea and passed an hour with Carlyle. Ah me! Saul amongst 
the prophets ! It must have been a dark hour with him . He 
seemed impatient of interruption, faithless, quite, in all 
social reform. His wit was somber, severe, hopeless; 
his very merriment had madness in it; his humor was 
tragic, even to tears. Nor could the rich mellowness of 
his voice, deepened as it was, and made more musical by 
his broad northern accent, hide from me the restless mel- 
ancholy, the memory feeding on hope, the decease of all 
prophecy in the grave of history. I told him the dead only 
dealt with the dead; that the living breathed only with the 
living. Emerson will sadden when you tell him what I 
write; but here is another of the thousand confirmations 
of that suicide by the pen in which literature abounds . I 
will not turn on my heel to see another man; and the women 
are tragic all (Mrs. Carlyle, Mrs. Fox, etc.)--these dole- 
ful daughters of Britain, they mourn even in their joys." 
Short as this comes of the whole truth, it is far nearer to 
it than most of Carlyle's verdicts. Caroline Fox had much 
the same conception of Mrs. Carlyle. Seven years later 
(June 13, 1849), we have this entry in her journal: 



Steamed to Chelsea and paid Mrs . Carlyle a humane 
little visit. I don't think she roasted a single soul, or 
even body . She talked in rather a melancholy way of her- 
self and of life in general; professing that it was only the 
faith that all things are well put together, which all sensi- 
ble people must believe, that prevents our sending to the 
nearest chemist's shop for sixpenny worth of arsenic; but 
now one just endures while it lasts, and that is all we can 
do. We said a few modest words in honor of existence, 
which she answered by, "But I can't enjoy joy, as Henry 
Taylor says." She caught a glimpse of her own profile the 
other day, and it gave her a great start, such a gloomy, 
headachy creature. 

Caroline Fox cited, after Sterling's death, his verses 
(to her aunt, as I suppose) entitled "Serena": 

--Benign 
And ever-sage Serena, whom no more 
I hoped to see with outward eyes of mine 

Than sunsets lost on boyhood's distant shore. 

We spake of old, when night 
With candles would outblaze the rising sun; 
When fairest cheeks, and foreheads hoary white, 
Seemed all, detected, each itself to shun. 

(That is not a bad description of the last hours of a ball.) 

Now through this window note 

The sycamores high-built in evening's grey; 
While scarce a star can pierce, nor air can float 

Through their soft gloom from ocean's glisten- 
ing bay . 

No doubt this was a scene in Cornwall, near Falmouth, 
where Sterling saw much of the Fox family. In June, 
1841, he was "deep in Emerson's Essays," showed Caro- 
line the book, and drew a parallel between him and Car- 
lyle: "Emerson is the Plato, Carlyle the Tacitus; E. is 
the systematic thinker. C. has the clearer insight, and 
has many deeper things than Emerson." This was an odd 
judgment; but Emerson is a much more systematic think- 
er than he is commonly reckoned. 

There are new books of fact and fiction coming out 
every day; but few, in any language, and none in English, 
which have the stimulating, world -changing quality that 
was felt in the early writing of Carlyle, Emerson, Rus- 
kin and a few others. Especially are we short of good 
poetry in the many volumes of verse that come from the 
press in all parts of the English-speaking world. Hence 
the embarrassment of England in seeking a suitable lau- 
reate; hence, too, the constant complaint in our country 
that no poets are rising up to take the place of Longfellow, 
Emerson, Lowell, Holmes and Bryant. We must endure 
this drouthy period in poetry for awhile, no doubt; it is 
only by starts that such birds come amongst us, --and we 
seldom recognize them when first they appear. Let us 
live in hope, then; rejoicing that we have so much good 
poetry to fall back upon, in case the crop should fail for 
a few years . 



140 



(106) 

GENERAL FRANK BARLOW 



The death of Gen. Frank Barlow in New York affects 
many friendly hearts in this vicinity, where he was born 
and lived until he had graduated at Harvard. His father 
was a brilliant scholar of the same university, graduating 
in the class of 1824 with Edward Emerson, the brother of 
Mr. Emerson of Concord; his mother, Miss Penniman of 
Brookline, was one of the beauties of her time. Gen. Bar- 
low was born at her home in Brookline, and when the Brook 
farm community was flourishing, was one of its pupils at 
West Roxbury; thence he was taken by his mother to Con- 
cord, where he went to school and was chiefly fitted for 
college, --entering in 1851, at the age of 17. He soon be- 
came first scholar in the class of '55, and retained that 
rank, though R. T. Paine finally overtook him in rank, 
so that they were "bracketed," and the class had two first 
scholars. He was distinguished in college for the ease 
with which he performed his exercises, with less appar- 
ent study than most of his contemporaries; and he was 
particularly intimate with the late Gen. C. R. Lowell, 
who was killed at the battle of Winchester, and who was 
first scholar in the class of '54 . They were very unlike, 
but each had an original turn of mind, not made to follow 
in the beaten path of conformity; during the war, or soon 
after they married sisters, who were also sisters of Col. 
Shaw, the hero of Fort Wagner. Barlow entered the serv- 
ice as a petty officer, but rose, for gallantry and wounds, 
to the rank of major-general; he was wounded at Gettys- 
burg, and for a short time was a prisoner; but he recov- 
ered and fought through the Wilderness campaign. Before 
the war he had been a lawyer studying and practicing in 
New York, and soon after the war was chosen secretary 
of state of New York; then appointed by Gen. Grant mar- 
shal of the southern district of that state, and finally be- 
came attorney-general of New York. His connection with 
the republican party gradually wore off, as that party 
ceased to represent its old principles, and he was one of 
the supporters of Tilden in 1876. Since then he had taken 
no great part in politics, though generally agreeing in opin- 
ion with his brother by marriage, George William Curtis. 
His health had been infirm for a year or two; but his death 
was unexpected here. His two sons, Robert Shaw and 
Charles Lowell Barlow, graduated at Harvard in 1891 and 
1893; his wife and a daughter also survive him. He is 
buried in Mt. Auburn. 

Except for his war record, which was exceptionally 
brilliant, Gen. Barlow hardly justified the high expecta- 
tions formed from his intellectual promise in youth; he 
was, in fact, too little ambitious, and rather indifferent 
to the common aspirations and prizes of the emulous sons 
of men. He did not long pursue the path of scholarship in 
which he had entered very early; nor did he seek social 
distinction especially. In a nation addicted to war, like 
those of Europe, he would have made war his profession, 
perhaps, --though he had no natural love of slaughter, or 
even of victory. He was eccentrically genial, and his hu- 
mor was of the most extreme animation; his manifest deli- 
cacy of constitution did not prevent him from enduring all 
the hardships of campaigns, nor from reaching a fairly 
advanced age, --if it were possible to fancy Frank Barlow 
as otherwise than young. He outlived his friend "Charley 



Lowell" by more than 30 years, and lived to see the war 
in which he risked his life accomplish more than was 
hoped when it began, --and yet fail of many high results 
it should have brought. 



DR 



(107) 
WILLIAM HENRY FURNESS 



A Danish writer in the Contemporary Review for Janu- 
ary undertakes to show that Shakespeare, before he wrote 
Hamlet, had visited Elsinore, and seen for himself what 
was the mode of life at the royal court of Denmark, whith- 
er James I had gone to provide himself with a wife, before 
he came to the English throne. English actors were cer- 
tainly there before 1590, and very likely Shakespeare was 
one of them . The matter is rather a curious than an im- 
portant feature of the poet's youth and professional life; 
but it is every way intrinsically probable that he was at 
some time a traveler outside of England, and there is 
room enough in his unrecorded earlier years for him to 
have spent a year abroad . It is interesting, also, to think 
that he sketched the scenes of Hamlet from the life, rath- 
er than from old chronicles and tales . It will be worth 
while to hear what our great American Shakespeare schol- 
ar, Dr. Horace Furness of Philadelphia, says in this con- 
jecture. 

And this reminds me to say a word of Dr. William H. 
Furness, the noble and gentle old divine of Philadelphia, 
who had preached more or less for 70 years in the same 
pulpit there, and who graduated at Harvard more than 75 
years ago. He and Dr. Martineau in England were the 
two nestors of the Unitarian faith, --but Dr. Furness was 
older by a few years, and a little older than Harriet Mar- 
tineau, who was born the same year, --1802. He was a 
year older than Emerson, and they went to the same 
"dame school" in Boston, 90 years ago. Emerson wrote 
to him when he began to be known as a writer on the per- 
sonality of Jesus, --"My wife reads you and venerates 
you; then I brag 'I went to school with him to Miss Nancy 
Dickson, and spelt out T-h-e H-o-u-s-e T-h-a-t J-a-c-k 
B-u-i-1-t on his red handkerchief.'" He was also associ- 
ated with Emerson in the Boston Latin school, and made 
the illustrations for Emerson's boyish poem, "The His- 
tory of Portus, a Chivalric Poem, with Notes Critical 
and Explanatory, by R. W. Emerson, LL.D."; he also 
commended Emerson's poem on the capture of the Brit- 
ish Guerriere by Commodore Hull. In 1838, when Em- 
erson was under severe censure in Boston from 'the 
hard-headed Unitarian pope" and many others, for his 
Divinity hall address, and got a letter from Dr. Furness 
praising it, the Concord heretic replied, --"Nobody but 
you and my brother Edward would praise the verses to 
the immortal Hull, nor could be induced, though I read 
them never so often. And now the case is scarcely al- 
tered; everybody thinks my things shocking but you, and 
a few generous hearts, who must be to me for Edward." 

Dr. Furness was an earlier friend of Alcott than Em- 
erson was, for they became intimate in 1830-31, when 
Alcott had his school in Germantown; and it was from 
Alcott that he received his first copy of Emerson's "Na- 
ture" in September, 1836. He wrote at once to Alcott 
in praise of it, and introduced a remark of much value 



141 
now, as throwing light on his peculiar view of the humanity 
of Jesus. "'Nature' is ringing in my soul like the voice of 
an angel. I feel I am poor, dumb and blind; but my nature 
vibrates and quakes at the approach of I know not what. 
It is a poem. There is but little of it, I fear, into which 
I have fully entered. But I recognize a view I have had, 
originally suggested by your saying, as you used to do, -- 
•That whether the facts of the New Testament were true or 
not, --were they pictures, — they are still interesting and 
enlightening.' I never knew how to meet this observation 
of yours. I have since thought, and Emerson expresses 
the true idea, --that facts are infinitely more valuable than 
pictures, because facts are God's fables, God's pictures, 
and pictures are man's pictures." In many respects Dr. 
Furness anticipated the view taken by Renan, 20 years lat- 
er, but without those Gallic expressions that so shocked the 
religious souls when his book was first printed. In his octo- 
genarian sonnets, written in 1881, Alcott paid his tribute to 
Dr. Furness thus: 

Christian beloved; devoid of art and wile, — 
Who lov'st thy Lord so well, with heart so true, 
That neither mist nor mote of worldly guile 
May clog thy vision, nor confuse the view 
Of that transcendent and commanding style 
Of god-like manhood; which had dazed long while 
Each purblind brother's idol-loving eye! 

adding, as a testimony to the Philadelphian's transcenden- 
talism , - - 

Thou the soul's errand and due place dost see; 
Its heavenly features to thy ken disclose, 
As when in Nazareth thy Lord uprose, 
The Father's image in Humanity. 



(108) 

EMERSON AND THOREAU IN AN AGE 

OF BIOGRAPHIES 

In my time-stained first edition of Emerson's "Nature," 
published by James Munroe & Co. in Boston, nearly 60 
years ago (September, 1836), with its motto from Taylor's 
Plotinus, for which, in the next edition a dozen years later, 
he substituted that fine anticipation of Darwin's develop- 
ment hypothesis, -- 

A subtle chain of countless rings 
The next unto the farthest brings; 
And, striving to be man, the worm 
Mounts through all the spires of form: — 

In this epoch- marking, if not epoch-making little book, the 
first words are, --"Our age is retrospective. It builds the 
sepulchers of the fathers. It writes biographies, histories 
and criticism. Why should not we also enjoy an original 
relation to the universe?" With this last question the dic- 
tum of Plotinus seemed a little inconsistent, I fancy, for 
that sage, in his devotion to the needs of the soul, rather 
undervalued Nature when he said, "Nature is but an image 
or imitation of wisdom, the last thing of the soul; Nature 
being a thing which doth only do, but not know." And then 



Thoreau came along, after "Nature" was published, to 
show by example that modern man could also "enjoy an 
original relation to the universe." For it was not till 
after 1836 (though he already knew Alcott and Ellery 
Charming, as well as his instructor in thought and style, 
Dr. Charming), that Emerson really came to know Tho- 
reau. Mr. Charming tells me that he went with Emerson 
in September, 1836, to present Mr. Alcott, then teaching 
his little school in Boston, with the first copy of the new 
book; of which, however, Alcott had seen some part of 
the manuscript. The next year Thoreau graduated, and 
became a personage in the Emersonian environment. 

However, this was not what I began to say, --but to 
call renewed attention to this insight and foresight of the 
Concord seer as to the literary characteristics of his 
century. We still write "biographies, histories and criti- 
cism"; and we not only build the tombs of the fathers, but 
we open and pillage those of the great-grandfathers, in 
Greece and Egypt, and wherever they can aid us to re- 
construct the past. Everybody must now have his biogra- 
phies, --a dozen or 20 in the newspapers and magazines 
while living, accompanied by as many bad portraits, -- 
and one or two volumes of "Life and Letters" after he has 
"deliquesced like a fungus," as Thoreau said, "and keeps 
a hundred eulogists mopping the spot where he left off." 
Such is our present condition; such the state to which 
vanity and curiosity, along with that insatiable interest 
that man takes in man, and especially in woman, --have 
brought us to-day. This being so; and Thoreau having 
been one of those who really died ("in order to die," he 
said, "you must first have lived,") his biography comes 
first on my list to-day. "I hear a good many pretend," 
quoth he, 'that they are going to die; or that they have 
died, for aught I know. Nonsense! I'll defy them to do 
it. They haven't got life enough in them." But a man who 
has had six biographies since he died, 34 years since, 
must have lived. 

This letter will be printed, I suppose, on the anniver- 
sary of Thoreau's death, May 6, 1862. It is the fortune 
of the Concord authors to die at the springtime, --Alcott 
and Miss Alcott in March, Emerson in April, Thoreau 
and Hawthorne in May, and none of them more fully rep- 
resented this season of hope and returning life than he 
who died first of all, --the hermit of Walden. Mr. Salt's 
new Life comes out in this country also in spring, Scrib- 
ner having become his publisher in New York, both for 
his "Thoreau" and his "Shelley, "--of which in England the 
publisher of cheap and good books, Walter Scott, has the 
sale. It is much in England to have "Walden," the "Week" 
and certain essays of Thoreau published at one and six- 
pence; and now this revised and improved biography, suc- 
ceeding that which Bentley published for Mr. Salt in 1890, 
comes out at the same moderate price. In reviewing his 
recent book on Shelley, the London Times magisterially 
informs its readers that "Mr. Salt is an American," but 
so far is this from the truth that he has never been in 
America. He is an English scholar, for years a master 
at Eton, who long since adopted radical opinions, and has 
found in Thoreau a guide and instructor, --though by no 
means adopting all Thoreau's opinions, nor failing to 
criticise his modes of humorous or exaggerated expres- 
sion, when needful. He has seen, however, the profound 
insight and interior meanings of this Concord moralist; 



142 



sympathizes with him socially and politically, and so must 
appear to the hack-writers of the Thunderer as a very ex- 
treme case of those very odd Americans, whom the Times 
has to scold and patronize alternately, in the same stilted 
and mediocre style. Shelley now has a cult in England, and 
must be treated respectfully; so will Thoreau have shortly, 
perhaps; meanwhile the English critics are gradually un- 
learning their nonsense about him, as his American critics 
have more swiftly done. To this end Mr. Salt's new Life 
will much contribute, — giving, as it does, recent and inti- 
mate views of Thoreau's character, and many facts not in- 
cluded in the earlier English lives of him . It comes out in 
Scott's "Great Writer" series, which now includes Emer- 
son, Hawthorne, Thoreau, Longfellow and Whittier of our 
New England writers, with Hugo, Heine, Lessing, Balzac, 
Voltaire and Renan among French and German authors. 

No two American authors could well resemble each other 
less, physically, mentally or spiritually, than Thoreau and 
Bayard Taylor, --the one staying at home and devoting him- 
self to thought and study, careless of publication beyond 
most modern authors, though he did publish two books and 
many scattered essays in his literary life of 25 years, -- 
the other ranging the world from China to Peru, — 

And Torno's cliff, and Pambamarca's side; 

and, in a literary life of 35 years (from 1844 to 1879) pub- 
lishing 40 volumes. Still more dissimilar were the im- 
pulses under which the two men acted, --best illustrated, 
perhaps, by Thoreau's whimsical version of Ovid's dis- 
tich, -- 



also rise above the mere rhyming rhetoric of his pro- 
fuse outpourings of verse, and approach genuine poetry. 
It was well said by an English critic whom Mr. Smyth 
quotes but does not name, that his poetry was chiefly 
characterized by "its perpetual diffuseness," and this 
critic adds, "His most ambitious productions are marred 
by a ceaseless effort to overstrain his powers." What the 
French call "fougue" was indeed the most marked charac- 
teristic of Taylor's spirit; the "modest charm of not too 
much" was foreign to him until toward the close of his 
restless literary career, when excess of fancy and ex- 
pression cooled down into something like imagination and 
art. It was for this reason that the restraining limits of 
Goethe's rigid method were of so much service to him in 
translating "Faust"; for the wildest fantasies of the great 
German poet were regulated by a preconceived and frugal 
system . Up to that time, Taylor's conception of poetry 
was something like that caricatured in the doggerel of the 
"Yankee Blade" satirizing the Transcendentalists: 

From the sky, stars 
Fall; 
In the wood, bars 
Growl; 
But what of that, O Great Heart? 
Art thou lab'rer? 
La bor 
On! 
Art thou Poet? 

Go it, 
Strong! 



Why should I wander abroad, scrutinizing the 
extreme Australians? 
I have more of the god, you have more of 
the road. 

They were less than eight years apart in age, --Thoreau 
born in July, 1817, and Taylor in January, 1825; and Taylor 
outlived Thoreau by more than 1 6 years . They were both 
men of incessant industry, but Taylor also of incessant ac- 
tivity, --a reaction, most likely, like his convivial mood, 
from the quiet and narrowness of his early life among the 
Quakers of Chester county; while Thoreau held himself 
more and more in a wise passivity, and (what Plotinus ad- 
vises in the close of his last Ennead) "self- surrender, epi- 
dosis auton, and an escape from the Unit of the Universal." 
Both had their pecuniary difficulties; but Thoreau kept his 
to himself, and overcame them by self-denial, while Tay- 
lor was constantly harping upon his, and gathering a large 
income only to expend it more largely. 

These traits of Taylor appear vividly in Albert A. 
Smyth's "Bayard Taylor," lately published in the inter- 
mittent series of "American Men of Letters," which also 
contains a brief outline of "Pennsylvania in Literature," 
the "four chief poets of the state" being, in Mr. Smyth's 
view, Buchanan Reed, George H. Boker, C. G. Leland and 
Bayard Taylor. A truer poet than any of these, though not 
a Pennsylvanian born, was the late Dr. Furness, though 
he published little verse, and that chiefly translation. 
Taylor's best verses were also translations from Goethe, 
whose "Faust" he has more adequately rendered as a 
whole, than any other. Some of Taylor's later poems 



(109) 

LITERARY LOSSES BY FIRES IN CONCORD, 

PLYMOUTH, NAHANT AND ELSEWHERE 

The chief events of this week in all eastern Massachu- 
setts have been the woodland fires, from which almost 
no large section of forest has been free, and even those 
smaller woodlands around Walden and some of the Ply- 
mouth ponds have not escaped . Taking account of the 
great April fire in Sandwich, Mashpee and Falmouth, 
and the Sandwich and Plymouth fires of April and May, 
the great woodlands from Carver and Wareham through 
Plymouth to the Vineyard sound must have been nearly 
half burnt over this spring, --and that means at least 50 
square miles. Little of it was heavy or large wood, for 
the trees grow but slowly on those gravelly and sandy 
hills; and there are few houses to be in danger along 
those solitary roads . But the worst Plymouth fire, start- 
ing near "Leech pond," where the Sabbatia or rose-gen- 
tian long since got its local name of "Leech-pond rose," 
and driven by a violent southwest gale, came near ruin- 
ing the Plymouth cemeteries, and even setting the village 
on fire. The beautiful park, garden and nurseries of the 
late Marston Watson were in danger, and also the com- 
paratively new "Morton park" on the shores of "Billington 
sea." 

The fire losses of a literary kind were considerable, 
--the Longfellow cottage at Nahant, the pine woods that 
sheltered Thoreau's hut by Walden, and the more stately 



143 
grove which Emerson called "the park," on the way from 
his study to his wood paths near Walden, were ravaged 
by the flames in a few hours of Monday. The real "study" 
of Emerson and Thoreau, like Wordsworth's, was out of 
doors; and very much in these woodlands which went up 
in flames and smoke the other day. It is only a few years 
since the Emersonian groves on the other side of Walden 
were overrun by fire, laying bare the rocky ledge where 
he once planned to build a greenwood lodge for prospect 
and for thought; and now the north and east sides of Wal- 
den have been so visited. In both cases, sparks from the 
Fitchburg railroad engines (70 of which run by Walden 
every 24 hours, they say) were the probable cause of these 
wasteful fires. It is a serious business for this railroad, 
which has to pay large sums in fire damage every year; and 
such conflagrations will hasten the time when electricity 
will supersede steam in the locomotive. Mr. Longfellow 
was far less an outdoor poet than his Concord neighbors; 
his house and garden at Cambridge and his cottage on the 
cold cliff at Nahant contented him, without those long daily 
rambles in which the Concord poets indulged . Nature will 
rebuild her groves in a few years; but the immediate waste 
and ugliness is considerable . It has been observed in the 
Plymouth and Sandwich woods that one of these great fires 
brings in a fine crop of blueberries and other woodland 
and swamp fruit; and the productive cranberry meadows 
of those regions do not seem to be affected much by fires . 
Had the flame caught in the park of the Watsons at Plymouth, 
it must have destroyed the house, with its store of books, 
manuscripts and engravings, where Emerson, Thoreau, 
Alcott and Channing spent so many rural hours with their 
Plymouth friends; but this misfortune was spared. 



(110) 
GEORGE BARTLETT AND THE SOCIAL LIFE 
OF CONCORD 

The kindly radiance of a generous mind was eclipsed in 
a rapidly gathering gloom of melancholy before the death 
of George Bartlett last week. He had devoted himself for 
many years more to the pleasure and comfort of others 
than to his own; and few persons, even in public positions, 
to which George never aspired, have been able to confer 
more favors on others than this genial, modest citizen. 
In these days of memorial and parading societies, though 
he might have belonged to a dozen, --Sons of the Pilgrims, 
society of Colonial Wars, Sons of the Revolution, etc. , — 
he avoided them all, and moved in his own orbit over a 
great circle of friendly and entertaining interests. He 
was descended from the first colonial governor, Brad- 
ford, --both his grandfathers and his great-grandfather 
served under Washington, — and the latter, Col. Samuel 
Bradford, was the friend of Kosciusko, who sketched his 
portrait, as they were associated in Washington's army. 
His father was one of the oldest physicians in practice in 
Massachusetts at his death in 1878, — and the two physi- 
cians, father and son, practised surgery and medicine 
from 1775 to 1878, ~a remarkable fact. George was born 
and educated in Concord, — a schoolmate and playmate of 
the late Gen. Barlow, among many others, --and after the 
Alcott family returned to Concord in 1857 he became one 



of a little dramatic company, in which Louisa Alcott and 
her two sisters were stars. From that time onward he 
gave his leisure and often his whole time to the promo- 
tion of innocent amusement, by private theatricals, tab- 
leaux, charades, etc., and in this occupation traversed 
a good part of our extensive country, making friends 
everywhere. In the summer season for nearly 40 years 
he cultivated boating on the Concord river, where, after 
the activity of Thoreau ceased in 1860, he was the most 
constant promoter and participant of that pursuit. Days 
and weeks, --even months and years, has he spent in 
visiting with friends or guests, or strangers whose en- 
tertainment he kindly undertook; every reach and bay, 
every cape and hillside and point on that tranquil stream, 
which flowed not more sunnily than the course of his own 
useful life. Of late years he had taken up lecturing and 
gave amusement and instruction to many audiences in 
that way. He also assisted in the formation of the many 
clubs which have sprung up in Concord within 20 years; 
though the oldest of the clubs, the "social circle," never 
honored itself, I believe, by choosing him as a member. 
Few social gatherings else were complete without his 
presence, in that quaint town, of which he gave much his- 
tory, remote or recent, authentic or apocryphal, in his 
"guide-book," and his lectures and essays. He wrote 
verse with facility, and many journals and magazines 
have given currency to his lively or plaintive sentiment, 
thus metrically expressed. Suddenly, under the pres- 
sure of disease and bereavement, this unceasing activity 
of duty and friendship ceased, and he who had been the 
cheer and support of others, himself needed their en- 
livenment and companionship, --from which, however, 
he was inclined to withdraw. This sad change went on 
for a few months, --and has ended in death. Few of my 
contemporaries will be more sincerely mourned, --for 
few have exercised more spontaneously that hospitality 
of mind which is far less native to New England than to 
some regions of our land. To him also might be applied 
that verse of Johnson's which we quoted with a change of 
name, to his more aged father: 

Well tried through many a varying year 
See Bartlett to the grave descend; 

Officious, innocent, sincere, -- 

Of every friendless name the friend. 



(Ill) 
ROSE HAWTHORNE LATHROP 

Rose Hawthorne Lathrop, Nathaniel Hawthorne's 
daughter, has decided to devote her life to the work of 
a nurse in a hospital for the cure of cancer, to be es- 
tablished in the heart of the quarters of the poor in New 
York city. She has been living apart from her husband, 
George Parsons Lathrop, for several months, as nurse 
in the cancer hospital at One Hundredth and Sixth street, 
under the charge of Dr. W. T. Bull. A month ago, after 
her experience had taught her what the work was, she 
stated the purpose which had been maturing in her mind 
for a long time, to make a small hospital in the East 
side, where the poor suffering from cancer should be 
treated without cost . Mrs . Lathrop has been in accord 



144 



with her husband in this purpose. She went to her nurse's 
probation with his consent, and she has his agreement in 
respect to the special hospital. Mrs. Lathrop and her 
husband aroused much interest when they became mem- 
bers of the Roman communion some years ago. That the 
daughter and son-in-law of Hawthorne, both of old Puritan 
ancestry, should leave the New England Unitarianism for 
the church of Rome was really an amazing circumstance. 
They have both been prominent in Roman Catholic socie- 
ties, and especially in the Catholic summer school, whose 
first session was held at New London, where the Lathrops 
have had their home. Rose Hawthorne was born for a devo- 
tee, and the present phase of her life is not to be wondered 
at. Since her little son died--a boy as lovely as that "star- 
headed" Astyanax of Hector and Andromache, and full in 
his infant glory of the promise of another Hawthorne, -- 
Mrs. Lathrop has had small happiness in life. 



(112) 
JOHN JAY CHAPMAN'S PRESUPPOSITIONS 
CONCERNING EMERSON* 

That insidious hypothesis, "Suppose your uncle had been 
your aunt," has beguiled many a man into strange fancies; 
and the more able and paradoxical he is, the stranger his 
fancies. Mr. Chapman in the January Atlantic, who writes 
with vigor, but from presuppositions of which nature takes 
very little heed, and which time will not confirm. He has 
constructed an Emerson such as possibly might have exist- 
ed, in a world whose classification had been determined 
by Mr. Chapman; but which did not materialize in the Plo- 
tinus-Montaigne of Concord, --to use Lowell's convenient 
hyphenated comparison. "Doubtless," said Dr. Boteler, 
"God might have created a better berry than the straw- 
berry; but doubtless God never did." Mr. Chapman's anti- 
thetic Emerson is admirable for rhetorical uses; but the 
men wno knew the man Emerson will not recognize him 
therein. The high condescension with which our critic 
treats Emerson's assumed ignorance of the fine arts is 
as amusing as anything in this entertaining and often ac- 
curate paper. "In fact," says the omniscient Mr. Chap- 
man, who must have entered into the inmost nature of his 
subject much as the Dutch painter entered into the inmost 
nature of a sheep, — or rather, perhaps, as the German 
artist constructed the camel out of his inner conscious- 
ness, — "in fact, Emerson has never in his life felt the 
normal appeal of any painting, or any sculpture, or any 
architecture, or any music." How singular! and how odd 
that we must wait for Mr. Chapman to find this out! who, 
of course, has felt, and knows all about this "normal ap- 
peal," and therefore has a right to be magisterial, and to 
say that our Concord sage "speaks always in such a way 
that it is impossible to connect what he says (about Phidias, 
Raphael, etc.) with any impression we have ever received 
from the works of those masters." The Tartar Khan who, 
after eating his own meal of dried mutton and mare's milk, 
stepped out of his tent and issued orders that all the other 
sovereigns of earth might now go to dinner, --did not, so 
far as recorded, prescribe what they should eat, or how 
it should taste in their mouths. If he had, we should not 
perhaps have that awe of him which we all feel at present. 
But it must be admitted that Mr. Chapman is no respecter 



of persons; he is just as peremptory with old Plato as 
with new Emerson. It is very convenient to have these 
critical hash machines, to reduce the solid lumps of phi- 
losophy to a soft, well-peppered mass for the intellectual 
breakfast table. 



* "Emerson, Sixty Years After," Atlantic Monthly LXXDC, 
pp. 27-41 and 222-240 (Jan. and Feb., 1897). 



(113) 

EMERSON AND WHITMAN SAT UPON 

A pragmatical tone has always pervaded the atmos- 
phere of New England, and is one of the distinguished 
marks of Boston, in particular. Emerson's Aunt Mary, 
writing to her step-father concerning one of her relatives 
in 1803, said: "As the mind never can rest in absolute 
quietude, my Aunt often finds cause of complaint either 
in the depredations of a Cat or the loss of a Hen; and 
when she is disposed for more elaborate difficulties, 
the religious skepticism of Mr. W. affords her oppor- 
tunity for the display of her controversial powers." This 
is not a bad picture of the mental attitude of the dogmatic 
and omniscient Mr. Chapman in the Atlantic, who seems 
to have taken as many views of Emerson as the equally 
self-satisfied Mr. Pecksniff did of Salisbury Cathedral. 
We have "Emerson from the southeast, " "Emerson from 
the north-by-west," etc.; from a little farther north he is 
in poor Hamlet's condition, "but mad north-northwest"; 
when the wind is southerly he knows a hawk from a hand- 
saw. It is a slight advantage in such cases to have seen 
the man whose portrait you are sketching; hence the su- 
periority (in all but the magisterial tone) of the cheerful 
Col. Higginson in what he says of the transcendentalist 
and anti-slavery period. What nonsense to say, as the 
dogmatic and prismatic Chapman does, that Emerson 
"did not discriminate between the movement of the Abo- 
litionists and the hundred and one other reform move- 
ments of the period";--he, the person of keenest dis- 
crimination then on the spot. As for his being slow to 
see that "these people" had the Moral Law on their side; 
Emerson shocked the Aspinwalls and Perkinses of Brook- 
line, of whom Higginson speaks, as early as 1837, when 
he said a brave word for Lovejoy, the anti- slavery mar- 
tyr of southern Illinois, at one of his Boston lectures. 
All that Mr. Chapman says of Emerson's "anger" and 
"ferocity" toward Daniel Webster is perfect nonsense; 
he has not entered into the nature of his "subject" (in the 
dissecting-room sense) at all. He should forswear an- 
tithesis and cultivate insight before he "swells up again" 
--as the martyred little girl said of the parson who began 
another bustling period when she fondly thought the ser- 
mon was over. 

It is not the annihilation of Emerson which this expati- 
ating critic seeks, but the making of him over to fit the 
Chapmanic ideal. Even in the case of Walt Whitman, the 
aimihilators have seemingly abandoned hope of snuffing 
him out, and are trying to trim his wick to suit their my- 
opian vision. How scornfully they pounced on him 40 
years ago; how sure they seemed to be that he was but a 
mushroom growth of something they were too nice of nose 
to examine closely! Yet here he is, the subject of more 



145 



books and magazine articles than ever; even the Nation 
dimly perceiving at last that Whitman was a man before he 
began to be a Kosmos„ In the perpetual circle of scratch- 
ing my back and tickling your elbow which literary criti- 
cism commonly is, the critics are apt to forget that there 
is anything behind book-making except the art of writing. 
The life is more than meat or meter; the body is more 
than raiment or the absence of raiment (which latter the 
critics have sometimes objected to Whitman). They were 
determined, however, to like nothing about him; and every 
sort of objection has been made to him, --even the use of 
"Walt" as a Christian name, --as if we must always speak 
of the poet of James First's reign as "Mr. Benjamin Jon- 
son." Whitman has often acted on the advice of Jonson to 
himself, though with far less arrogance, — to 

Sing high and aloof, 
Safe from the wolf's black jaw, and the dull ass's hoof. 

Another verse of that ode would fit Whitman's contempt for 
the customary forms of verse, — in which however, he had 
only now and then Jonson 's easy mastery of rhythm: 

What though the greedy fry 
Be taken with false baits 

Of worded balladry, 

And think it poesy? 
They die with their conceits, — 
And only piteous scorn upon their folly waits. 

Whatever may be said against the lack of form in Whit- 
man's poesy, the substance is often there in a grand man- 
ner; and single phrases of his will live like those celebrat- 
ed by Tennyson, -- 

Which on the stretched forefinger of all time 
Sparkle forever, — 

Only Whitman's are apt to be more than "jewels five words 
long, " and require a very stretched forefinger to hold them . 
A little more measure and a shorter breath (since all po- 
etic measures are timed by the breath, as Holmes said) 
would have vastly improved Whitman's abnormal verse, 
which recalls Cowley's compliment to Hobbes: 

Thy nobler vessel the vast ocean tries, 
And nothing sees but seas and skies, 
Till unknown regions it descries, 
Thou great Columbus of the golden lands of new 
Philosophies 1 

This great circle sailing of Whitman's may not always 
bring one to land, any more than the Flying Dutchman's 
unending voyage did; but there is sublimity (and sometimes 
bilge water) in the cruise . When the unwise speak of his 
"ignorance" (a favorite slur) they overlook Whitman's 
great insight as a critic, --a quality quite incompatible 
with ignorance, though often detached from pedantic book- 
lore. Thus of Poe, that Flying Dutchman of literature, 
with the St. Elmo's fire ever at his shadowy masthead, 
Whitman said, --"Almost without the first sign of moral 
principle, or of the concrete or its heroisms, --or of the 
simpler affections of the heart, Poe's verses illustrate 



an intense faculty for technical and abstract beauty, with 
the rhyming art to excess, --an incorrigible propensity 
toward nocturnal themes, a demoniac undertone behind 
every page, --and by final judgment they probably belong 
among the electric lights of imaginative literature, -- 
brilliant and dazzling, but with no heat." That is to say, 
Poe was not first an honest man, paying his debts and 
keeping his word, as Whitman always did (and as some 
of his censors should do), but was a shadow or eidolon 
of a man, made more shadowlike by vice. 

In Providence, long after Poe's death, Walt Whitman 
made the acquaintance of Mrs. S. H. Whitman, the friend 
of Poe, and may have heard from her a part of his strange 
story, which few had occasion to know better than that 
lady. Thomas Donaldson, who is one of the last to print 
a whole book about Whitman, --three such books came 
from the press in 1896, perhaps more, --dwells, as he 
well may, on the simplicity of his character and the dis- 
tinction of his manners. These were striking traits, and 
few could really know Whitman without being charmed by 
them; though a certain egotism in him was apt to provoke 
such as had a like or greater egotism in themselves, --a 
fact I have often noticed in regard to Charles Sumner. I 
fancy Mr. Donaldson does not admit that Whitman's con- 
versation was "meager, slow, and commonplace," as the 
slowly thawing Nation declares. It was peculiar, and in 
his illness perhaps slow, though I did not notice it; but 
it was never meager or commonplace; though it lacked 
something of the rhetoric in which he clothed his thought 
before publishing it. Mr. D. is surely mistaken in say- 
ing that Whitman looked on the abolitionists "as generally 
firebrands, and inciters to insurrection"; had that been 
their true description, he would have admired them, as 
he did John Brown. 

Our poet-philosopher of Brooklyn and Camden seems 
to have been capable of inspiring very different opinions 
concerning himself, even in the same mind, at different 
periods, as we have lately seen by the strongly contrasted 
judgments given by that acute but rather loose-principled 
critic, Julian Hawthorne. Apparently Sidney Lanier had 
a like experience, judging by passages from a letter of 
his in 1878, and a reported conversation a few years lat- 
er, --both quoted in the Conservator of October last. In 
the letter Lanier enrols himself among Whitman's "most 
earnest lovers"; in the conversation he is reported as 
saying: "Whitman is poetry's butcher; huge, raw collops 
slashed from the rump of poetry, --and never mind gris- 
tle, --is what he feeds our souls with." Julian Hawthorne 
is still more divergent in his two judgments: in that of 
1889, at the Camden dinner, he said, in Whitman's pres- 
ence, "Walt Whitman sits here as the deputy of Nature, -- 
her embassador accredited and approved, --less as an in- 
dividual man than as a gospel." But in his deliberate criti- 
cism, prefixed to a school textbook, Mr. Hawthorne de- 
picts him as determined 'to bray forth his message upon 
a fog horn," and then says: "Searching through the repul- 
sive wildness of his pages, we not seldom stumble upon 
something which might have been worth preserving had it 
not been distorted and degraded by perverse treatment. 
Much of his apparent originality is due to his remarkable 
ignorance; he knows almost nothing of the thought and his- 
tory of mankind, and the coarse, primitive quality of his 
intellect renders him incapable of receiving cultivation." 



146 



These are tart, and, still worse, patronizing words; 
not without a sort of palliation in the recorded utterances 
of Whitman, who was rather fond of posing and very much 
lacking in good taste; but the true greatness of the man was 
perceptible enough amid all his affectations . It was per- 
ceived by Emerson at once upon reading that first manifes- 
tation of it--the thin quarto volume of "Leaves of Grass," 
published in 1855. I used to fancy that Emerson had known 
Whitman in New York before that book came out, but I see 
I was mistaken; that the interviews with him which Emer- 
son had mentioned to me, at the Astor house and in one or 
two of the engine-houses of New York where his friends the 
firemen used to meet, were the consequence of the enthu- 
siastic letter which Emerson wrote to Whitman soon after 
receiving the book, and which Whitman had the bad taste 
to quote from without asking Emerson's permission, in a 
conspicuous part of his second edition—that little, green- 
bound volume which came out, I think, in 1856. A friend 
says he was present when Emerson first received the book 
or newspaper which contained the blazing fact that Whit- 
man had so quoted him in public, --and never had he seen 
him so angry; he said nothing, but his manner spoke vol- 
umes. Something of this feeling remained afterward with 
Emerson, but did not affect his intellectual judgment of 
Whitman. 



(114) 
DONALDSON'S BOOK ON WALT WHITMAN- 
WHITMAN COMPARED WITH RABELAIS 

It is true of authors as of any class of our fellow-men 
that "some are born great, some achieve greatness and 
some have greatness thrust upon them ." Three writers 
of the past six centuries and a half--Michael Scott, whom 
Dante coolly places in hell, Rabelais, whom his brother 
monks would gladly have sent thither, and Walt Whitman- - 
divide this period of time into fairly equal parts; for Scott 
lived from 1220 to 1291 (probably); Rabelais 300 years lat- 
er, and Whitman 300 years after Rabelais. Few people 
nowadays know anything of Michael Scott as an author; his 
namesake, Walter, who mentions him in his best poem 
("The Lay of the Last Minstrel") has quite eclipsed the 
old monk and magician in literature; yet he was a copious 
and sometimes an entertaining writer . Rabelais is better 
known, but avoided for his coarseness; and Whitman, in 
many minds, is associated with Rabelais as a coarse writ- 
er, --though nothing can be more unlike the French monk 
and medical man than the American roving editor and gran- 
diose poet. Discrimination is not the common trait of man- 
kind, considered individually; though the race as a whole 
is fairly discriminating; and it often requires centuries to 
bring men to a fair appreciation of a great man, --in any of 
Shakespeare's three classes. Perhaps it would be true to 
say that Whitman was born great, Rabelais achieved great- 
ness and Michael Scott had greatness (of the legendary kind) 
thrust upon him. Let us see how it is. 

Thomas Donaldson's function is to tell of Whitman as 
he lived, not as he wrote; for a less qualified literary crit- 
ic than he is seldom seen even in Philadelphia: his book, 
"Walt Whitman, the Man," is nevertheless valuable, be- 
cause it preserves traits, facts and anecdotes about the 
author of "Leaves of Grass" which no literary critic could 



supply. Mr. D's use of language is singular; he evidently 
has no conception of rhetoric as such, and the dictionary 
he uses is peculiar; but when he confines himself to fact, 
and he does not attempt appreciation, he can be under- 
stood and enjoyed. He has a sense of the ludicrous, --a 
quality sometimes denied to admirers of Whitman, but 
which Whitman had in abundance. Thus he tells the story 
of the visitor who looked on Whitman as a cure for insom- 
nia: 

He sat in the quasi-dark of Mr. Whitman's small par- 
lor, and apparently listened while I drew Mr. W. out 
on various topics. I never heard him talk as well. My 
friend sat in a dark corner, apparently a wrapt (sic) lis- 
tener. About 10 1 arose and said to my friend, "Well, we 
had better go. Mr. Whitman is tired, and this is his hour 
for retiring." "Certainly," said my friend; '"what a charm- 
ing evening I have passed! Mr. Whitman, may I have the 
honor of calling again?" "Certainly, come when you like." 
As we were going down toward the ferry for Philadelphia, 
my friend gave a yawn, and said, "I find that when I nap 
early in the evening, I cannot sleep well at night." "You 
old villain!" I answered, "and you were asleep all of the 
time at Mr. Whitman's?" "I was, most certainly. The 
poet's voice lulled me into blessed repose, two minutes 
after he began to talk. Really, he is a remarkable man. 
I have had doctor after doctor try to give me an early 
sleep; but they all failed." 

The most important contribution made by this book to 
our knowledge of Whitman is in the chapter relating to 
his work in the army hospitals; for few of us have been 
aware how thoroughly and usefully he did that visitation 
of the wounded and sick. Mr. Donaldson prints letters 
showing how he was aided to carry on this work by gifts 
from Boston and other cities, — amounting in all to thou- 
sands of dollars. Among the givers were Dr. Le Baron 
Russell of Plymouth and Boston, Miss Hannah Stevenson, 
the faithful friend of Theodore Parker, her sister, Mrs. 
Charles P. Curtis, Mrs. Briggs of Plymouth and Salem, 
the Misses Wigglesworth of Boston, Mr. Emerson of Con- 
cord, James Redpath, and others then well known in Mas- 
sachusetts. The testimony of Dr. D. W. Bliss of the Ar- 
mory Square hospital in Washington, here cited, is con- 
clusive as to Whitman's services. He wrote: 

From my personal knowledge of Mr. Whitman's labors 
in Armory Square and other hospitals, I am of opinion that 
no one person who assisted in the hospitals during the war 
accomplished so much good to the soldier and for the gov- 
ernment as Mr. Whitman. 

It is also shown (what many persons who have slan- 
dered Whitman have not known) that his paralysis in after 
years was due to hospital malaria and blood poisoning 
contracted in this volunteer service; which was probably 
of more value to the country than any amount of cam- 
paigning with musket or sword could have been, --had 
Whitman, with his Quaker breeding, been inclined to 
fight in the ranks . A curious revelation of this volume is 
the judgment passed by the author and (almost) finisher of 
the greenback, Secretary Chase, in December, 1863, on 
Whitman, --which may well be contrasted with Dr. Bliss's 



147 

certificate given above. It seems that J. T. Trowbridge, 
the author, who was a friend both of Emerson and of Whit- 
man, suggested to the stately secretary, who retained some- 
thing of his native New England bigotry, that he should give 
the hospital worker a clerkship in the treasury, --where- 
upon we have this memorandum by Whitman dated Decem- 
ber 11: 

This forenoon Mr. Trowbridge has been with me, --he 
had a talk yesterday with S. P. Chase, the secretary of 
the treasury, about me; presented Emerson's letter to 
Mr. C.--he said some commonplaces about wishing to 
oblige R. W. E. & Mr. Trowbridge; --then said he con- 
sidered Leaves of Grass a very bad book, & he did not 
know how he could possibly bring its author into the gov- 
ernment service, especially if he put him in contact with 
gentlemen employed in the beaureaus (sic), — did not think 
he would be warranted in doing so, - -he considered the au- 
thor of Leaves of Grass in the light of a decidedly disrepu- 
table person. Mr. T. mentioned to him my employment 
for a year past among the wounded and sick soldiers, --it 
did not seem to make any difference . 

Considering the general reputation of the treasury de- 
partment's morality in the period when Mr. Chase man- 
aged it, this utterance of his concerning Whitman has now 
a very much queerer look than Mr. Chase ever can have 
supposed it would . Mr . Lincoln should have been appealed 
to; and he would have overruled his decorous secretary, I 
fancy. Emerson, though with reason vexed at the use Whit- 
man had made in 1856 of his private letter of recognition 
(making it an advertisement), could overlook such things, 
and promote his friend's wish to be more widely useful in 
the hospitals, --and it was through his agency that money 
was sent to Whitman for the hospital service. Lincoln 
would have been equally cognizant of the difference be- 
tween one man and another, had he actually known Whit- 
man, --which it seems he never did. Whitman in writing 
aimed at a style characteristic of himself, and found it. 
If Mr. Donaldson has done so, the result hardly justifies 
the effort. Yet he can make himself understood, and his 
observation is singularly clear at times. He says of Whit- 
man's manner: 

He spoke slowly, --very slowly at times, — but this was 
not affectation; it was merely that he was formulating his 
ideas into speech. At other times, when on subjects he had 
thought over, he spoke rather quickly, and with freedom. 
He thought slowly, but impressions were quickly made; de- 
ductions resulted slowly. Because he thought a thing and 
announced it, he did not believe it a crime in others not to 
think or believe as he did. Unfair criticism of his work 
caused him but little, if any, mental trouble. Unfair and 
unjust criticism of himself cut him and hurt his pride. He 
never, by any word, sign or act gave me an impression that 
he considered himself a great man, or was posing as one, 
or that he was exceptional among men. He acted naturally, 
as other men act, but moved in his own orbit, and preserved 
at all times his distinct personality. He was a pioneer over 
some rough and untrodden paths, and a few persons made 
his journey rougher than was necessary. He appreciated 
friendship and valued love. He sang for love, duty, good 
cheer and the dignity of manhood, and above all exhorted 



self-reliance, --on a moral basis. He was honest, just, 
and brave. He wanted to be useful, and he was. He did 
some things unusual, some things great, many things 
mediocre. His friends often expressed more feeling 
than he did against libel, slander and calumny; he bore 
it meekly, and went right on. He knew that his purpose 
was honest; his motive was the bettering of the condition 
of mankind . 

The same may be said for the very different work of 
Rabelais, whom Bacon called 'the great jester of France," 
and who lived in a rude and filthy age, when nasty monks 
sat with great weight on the neck of the human race, and 
made merchandise of the childish credulity which is so 
marked and universal a trait of mankind. Born in 1490, 
two centuries after Michael Scott died, he lived to Whit- 
man's age (73 years) lacking 10 years, and died, partly 
unpublished, and imperfectly understood, in 1553. He 
was a monk himself, though an impatient and refractory 
one, and it is the opinion of his latest English translator, 
W. F. Smith, that his "Gargantua and Pantagruel" are 
his autobiography and commonplace-book, — as Whitman's 
"Leaves of Grass" were his. Mr. Smith writes me: 

Those who have read his books have misread them, 
from the 17th century onward, they have taken as one 
book, written straight on end, and with the fixed idea of 
satirizing the monks and the Sorbonne; whereas there was 
an interval from 1532 to 1552 between the first and last 
books. There is extant, but almost lost to sight, a crude 
"fabliau" which I make certain he wrote, — "The Grand 
Chronicles of the great and enormous Giant Gargantua"; 
it was his first attempt in 1532, followed by "Pantagruel" 
in 1533, and "Gargantua" (as we have it) in 1535, after 
his visit to Rome. This "Gargantua" is a greatly im- 
proved 'Chronicles," — the latter afterward dropped, as 
superseded. After the "Gargantua" Rabelais paid another 
visit to Rome in 1535-6, — then was at Paris and Montpel- 
lier, and in 1540 at Turin, as physician to Guillaume de 
Bellay, viceroy of Francis I, in Piedmont. In 1543 he 
went to St. Ay, near Orleans, and to St. Maur des Fos- 
ses, near Paris; where, having the advantage of a good 
Benedictine library, he completed his third book, --the 
most finished of all, --in 1546. Its publication caused 
him to fly from the persecution of the Sorbonne to Metz , 
where he was in exile, for more than a year, and wrote 
the first instalment of his fourth book, which he complet- 
ed at Rome in 1548. He did not publish it till 1552, --it 
created such a stir among theologians that he resigned 
his parish of Meudon at the beginning of 1553, and died 
the following April. The fifth book consists of chapters 
which he composed at various times, and laid aside for 
different reasons; they were put together rather clumsily 
after his death; and though unfinished, there is consider- 
able brightness in them . Almost the most interesting 
point is the sources from which he drew his wide and 
heterogeneous knowledge, — and this depends greatly on 
his whereabouts. 

Now he began his life as author at Lyons in 1532, 
where he was in the midst of a coterie of printers, -- 
Sebastian, Gryphius, Nourry, Juste, etc., --and a close 
friend of the learned poet, Clement Marot. Till then his 
reading, though wide, had been professional, --that is, 



148 



his Breviary and the Fathers, to which he added the Latin 
and Greek books he got at through his cloister-brother, 
Amy, and the great French scholar Budaeus, --together 
with the medical and legal books read in his student -tour 
through the French universities, --described in the fifth 
chapter of Panta gruel. Now, at Lyons, he began devour- 
ing the French romances of chivalry, of which he would 
find beautifully printed copies in the library of Gryphius 
(mostly printed by Galliot du Pre at Paris); and he amused 
himself by imitating the Arthur cycle in his "Grandes 
Chronicques." In "Pantagruel" he took up the Carlovingian 
romances, and began to weave in adventures of his own 
observation, as well as strictures on the Sorbonne, the 
Cologue doctors, the Franciscans, etc. In "Gargantua," 
with the same setting of the Charlemagne romance, he 
worked in the places near his birthplace (Chinon), where 
he passed his boyhood. A curious feature is that in its 
allusions the Pantagruel is Virgilian, and the Gargantua 
Homeric; in the third book he drops the gigantic element, 
and uses freely Plutarch, Pliny, and Erasmus, which he 
had been reading in retreat near Paris. Thus, by observ- 
ing the books from which he derives his romance, it is 
easy to see what his library was. And I am anxious to 
show that Rabelais was not a drunken buffoon, writing rib- 
aldry at random, but one of the most learned men of his 
time, and deserving the serious attention of scholars. . . . 



(115) 
THE LIMITATIONS OF BIOGRAPHIES OF HAWTHORNE 

Biographies of Hawthorne are becoming numerous, but 
none of them is quite complete . At first they were made 
short, having respect to an expressed wish of his that no 
life should be written; this being found impracticable, 
Julian wrote a two-volume book, which contained much 
that might have been profitably omitted, and yet omitted 
much that should have been said. Now we have the daugh- 
ter's (Rose Lathrop's) "Memories of Hawthorne," — mainly 
made up from letters of her father and mother, and there- 
fore communicating much on outside topics, --but having 
the defect of the former family biographies, --that partiali- 
ty is visible everywhere . Mrs . Hawthorne was such a 
worshiper of her husband that her estimate can never be 
quite literally taken, and even her relation of facts is 
sometimes colored by this amiable incapacity to see things 
in the dry light of impartiality . The same is true of the 
daughter, whom you would scarcely select as the critic of 
her father's writings, or of his general character. Never- 
theless, the book has value, if it were only for the inter- 
esting facts and atmosphere of the time when these two 
persons came together, and formed that happy union which 
compensated the romantic author for much that was narrow 
or depressing in his outward circumstances. 

None of these biographers have fully explored Haw- 
thorne's literary activity in the years after leaving Bow- 
doin college, and before he published his "Twice-Told 
Tales." His relations with S. G. Goodrich, though known 
in a general way, have never been exactly traced out; and 
there are editions and stories or sketches by Hawthorne to 
which his name has never been attached. He must have 
edited for Goodrich that series called "Tales of Travels, 
by Solomon Bell, late Keeper of the Travelers' Library, 



Province House Court, Boston, "--the first volume of which 
was copyrighted by Goodrich October 19, 1830, containing 
abridgments of Lewis and Clarke's explorations, and of 
Maj. Long's and John R. Jewitt's experiences, — the latter 
among the Nootka Sound Indians, from 1803 to 1805. The 
preface to this little book, designed for boys, sufficiently 
proves Hawthorne to have written it, --his style being un- 
mistakable. Thus the imaginary Solomon Bell says: 

I have put my hand to the plow, and, what is more, I 
have given my portrait in the title-page. Those who do 
not recollect the features of the "Late Keeper of the Trav- 
elers' Library, Province House Court, Boston," may per- 
chance recognize the lineaments of a well-known individ- 
ual; who, being pleased with all the world, is of course 
never very much out of humor with himself. ... I make 
no pretenses to learning, and I never had any thing to do 
with ambition. I court not Fame; and if I did, the goddess 
would not listen to such humble addresses as mine. Nor 
do I seek Fortune; for that blind deity has had sufficient 
eyesight always to elude my pursuit. I may add that the 
tide in the affairs of men, of which the poet speaks, has 
irrevocably ebbed beyond my reach. Why do I write then? 
Partly because I have been a traveler myself, and would 
fain edge in a few of my adventures with those of other 
people; partly because I have nothing else to do; partly 
because I am like my neighbor, Peter Parley, and love to 
see the eyes of children glisten at hearing a good story; 
and partly because I am not willing to let the world roll 
round beneath my feet, and bring me to my grave, leav- 
ing no record behind of any serious effort on my part to 
benefit mankind. ... I shall not, like Mr. Parley, always 
introduce myself as the hero of the story. On the con- 
trary, my chief business will be to tell what has happened 
to others . 

Like some of the other engravings in this little book, the 
portrait of Solomon Bell is engraved (and no doubt drawn) 
by George L. Brown, afterward the celebrated painter, 
who began as an engraver. The map preceding the title- 
page is curious; it excludes the "Platte Purchase" from 
the state of Missouri, and throws the Missouri river, 
above "Fort Osage" (near Kansas City), into what is now 
Kansas and Nebraska; calls the Kansas river "Konzas," 
and indicates Council Bluff where it now is, and not, as 
Col. Higginson oddly says, at the present Nebraska City, 
on the west of the Missouri, 40 miles farther south. What 
the Iowa newspapers and magazines will say in criticism 
of the colonel's geography, I shudder to think. 



(116) 
RECENT EVALUATIONS OF THE CONCORD AUTHORS 

The value of small and frequent doses of literature to 
the young is probably underrated by older persons, and 
particularly by those who are themselves widely read in 
many authors. They forget that a child's mind is at once 
very attentive, and easily wearied by sameness; it craves 
variety, and yet, paradoxically, it delights in repetition, 
as many a mother has learned, by being required to tell 
the same story over and over. But in literature and espe- 
cially in poetry, which is the flower of literature, short 



149 



passages are better than long ones, and therefore books 
of extracts, often tiresome to older persons, delight the 
young and introduce into the mind passages that are long 
remembered. I can still recall the quotations which I read 
as a young child in the school-books of my older brother, 
--his "Newman's Rhetoric," now quite forgotten by the 
world, still gives me a few quotations; and that bigger and 
elder Rhetoric of Jameson, which came to me a year or 
two later, has furnished me for many years with passages 
I shall be slow to forget; --Pope's attack on Addison, for 
example, and Prior's soft lines in "Henry and Emma." 
Consequently I see a merit in Frank V. Irish's "Ameri- 
can and British Authors" which might escape the notice of 
those who have failed to observe this youthful trait just 
mentioned . For it is rich in brief citations from the 50 
or 60 authors who appear in the small school — text-book 
volume; and these authors, though oddly arranged, without 
much regard to class or period, are mostly well selected, 
as genuine representatives of many literary schools, here 
and in Great Britain. 

Particular attention is paid by Mr . Irish to American 
authors, who fill more than 200 of his 330 pages devoted 
to particular writers; and of these, 40 pages are given to 
three Concord authors—Emerson, Hawthorne and Tho- 
reau. Whittier and Lowell get each nearly 20 pages, --the 
selections in every case being preceded by brief biogra- 
phies, and followed by a school catechism on the events 
and characteristics of these most uneventful lives, and 
the nature of the contribution made by each to literature 
and morals. The English and Scotch authors are treated 
less exhaustively; and some are omitted who might have 
been looked for in such a work; Clarendon, for example, 
who is only mentioned, and Horace Walpole, who is but 
once quoted, and then only about an insignificant matter 
(Pope's five acres at Twickenham); but most of the selec- 
tions are in line with the editor's main purpose, which is 
to stimulate the pupil, and lead him on to make studies of 
his own. In this respect, it is one of the best text-books 
I have seen, and ought to be extensively popular. Mr. 
Irish lives in Columbus, O. , and prints his book there; 
but he has traveled the country in his preparation for it; 
and his reading has been very wide and observant . As a 
critic he reminds me of that excellent portrait of Emerson 
by Ellery Channing: 

Forbearing too much counsel, — yet with blows 
In pleasing reason urged, he touched their thought 
As with a mild surprise . 

(I am sure that Channing, with innate whim, in his life of 
Thoreau, applies this compliment to Thoreau, but it must 
have been originally in the poem "Near Home," intended 
for Emerson.) In regard to Thoreau, Channing quotes the 
little-known Latin poem of Laura Bassi at Bologna, --"Quid 
Inde?"— that is, "What of It?"— beginning, 

Si tibi pulchra domus, si splendida mensa, 

quid inde? 
Si species auri, argentl quoque massa, quid 

inde? 

which might thus be rendered, preserving the quaint repe- 
titions at each end of every line: 



Be thine a stately house, a sumptuous board, -- 

what then? 
Be thine the gleam of gold, the silver hoard, -- 

what then? 
Be thine a beauteous bride, of noble race, — 

what then? 
Be children thine, --be lordly lands thy lot, -- 

what then? 
Be valor thine, be lovely face, be wealth, -- 

what then? 
Be thine the gift to teach in every art, --what 

then? 
Be thine an endless train of servitors, --what 

then? 
Be thine the world's sweet smile, and pros- 
perous days, --what then? 
Be prior, abbot, duke- -be even pope, --what 

then? 
Be happy in thy reign a thousand years, -- 

what then? 
Be thou by Fortune's wheel uplifted high, « 

what then? 
Swiftly, --0 sadly swift! all these are gone, -- 

and then? 
Virtue alone abides: in her we'll triumph then. 
So follow God alone I from Him comes blessing 

then. 

This was the creed of the Concord authors generally, 
--with all their idiosyncrasies, which Mrs. Hawthorne- 
Lathrop glosses over with filial affection in her father's 
case, but does not extend a like consideration to some 
others . There is a mixed and second-hand character in 
her recollections of Alcott; the vulgar world found so 
much satisfaction in railing at this humble disciple of the 
Bolognese doctrine, that a little of its vulgarity permeates 
this critic's remarks. She says, --"He often spoke hum- 
bly, but he never let people think he was humble; his foi- 
bles appeared to be ridiculous, and provoked me exceed- 
ingly, "--a sure sign that it was lack of humility in the 
childish observer which led to this provocation. Indeed, 
a singular air of patronizing the rest of the world was a 
Peabody trait; self-sacrifice was another; but the highest 
unselfishness does not seek to be noticed as such. She 
has a truer insight in what she says of Ellery Channing 
than of Emerson, Alcott or Thoreau . Fancy has much to 
do with her portraitures, as with those drawn by Louisa 
Alcott; indeed, it is with fancy or sentiment that women 
portray men, rather than with the piercing insight of the 
dramatist, or the cool judgment of the man of affairs. 
Mrs. Lathrop's very style is so fanciful (like her moth- 
er's), that it often injures the outline of the figure she 
draws; but there are fine touches of anecdote and remi- 
niscence in this volume of "Memories." One of the droll- 
est is Mary Peabody 's account of the great Dr. Channing, 
in June, 1833, when she carried him her sister Sophia's 
drawings : 

He gathered himself up in a little striped cloak, and 
all radiant with that soul of his, said with his most divine 
inflection, "This is a great and noble undertaking, and 
will do much for us here." And then he rolled his orbs 
upon me in that majestic way of his, which, when it melts 



150 



into loveliness, as it sometimes does, so takes captivity 
captive. He inquired very particularly for you, Sophia, 
and showed me all the new books he had just received from 
England, which he thought a great imposition, --they being 
big books . Edward (his brother the Harvard professor of 
rhetoric) came in, and they greeted affectionately. After 
a long survey of the professor, Dr. C. exclaimed, "Why, 
Edward, you look gross, — take care of the intellect!" Then 
he handed him one of the great books just arrived, which 
was an edition of T. Belsham, with a likeness of the au- 
thor. "There," said he, "is a man who had not quite the di- 
mensions of a hogshead; but he was the largest man I ever 
saw." Edward looked rather uneasy. "William," he re- 
plied, "I don't think you are any judge of large men. Last 
week I looked quite thin; but to-day my head and face are 
very much swelled." The doctor, in the simplicity of his 
heart, never thinks of feelings, only of things, as Plato 
would say. 

Another characteristic passage, this time from Eliza- 
beth to Sophia herself, in the flush of her engagement to 
Hawthorne introduces Emerson talking of Hawthorne and 
Jones Very, whose essays and sonnets the Concord poet 
was then editing: 

Mr. Emerson asked me what I had to say of Hawthorne, 
and told me Mr. Bancroft said that H. was the best and 
most efficient of the custom-house officers. Mr. Emer- 
son seemed all congenial about him, but has not yet read 
his writings. He is in a good mood to do so, however, and 
I intend to bring him to his knees in a day or two, so that 
he will read the book, and all that Hawthorne has written. 
He says Very forbids all correcting of his verses; but nev- 
ertheless Emerson selects and combines with sovereign 
will, "and shall," he says, "make out quite a little gem of 
a volume." But he adds, "Hawthorne says Very is always 
vain. I find I cannot forget that dictum, which you repeat- 
ed, — but it is continually confirmed by himself, amidst all 
his sublimities." 

Sophia told Hawthorne what George Bancroft (then collector 
of Boston) had said, — he blushed deeply, and replied "What 
fame!" After the marriage (July 9, 1842), in their first 
winter at the old manse, Hawthorne developed genius as a 
skater, and furnished a new occasion of worship to his 
adoring wife, who wrote to her sister: 



and said to me that Hawthorne was a tiger, a bear, a 
lion, --in short, a satyr, --and there was no tiring him 
out; he might be the death of a man like Mr. E. 

This is a scene for a painter; all three being then at 
the top of their condition, --Emerson 39 years old, Haw- 
thorne 38, and Thoreau 25. Ellery Channing at this time 
was living temporarily in Cambridge; but in the spring of 
1843 he came to Concord, and lived, as Mrs. Hawthorne 
wrote, "in a little red cottage on the Cambridge road, 
with one acre attached, upon which Ellery has worked 
very hard . He and Ellen (his wife) are very happy, and 
Ellery is a very charming companion." He was also a 
good cook, and in the absence of Mrs. Hawthorne, a year 
or two later, cooked fish from the river admirably for 
the fastidious Hawthorne, who praised the dish. Haw- 
thorne himself, in 1844, cooked and washed dishes, in 
the temporary interregnum between housemaids . On this 
sore subject, Mrs. H. wrote in August, 1844, — "lam 
much inclined to have the black woman. My husband says 
he does not want me to undertake to keep anybody who is 
apparently innocent, after my late sore experience; he 
says the old black lady is probably as bad already as she 
ever will be." As she was to come from the Peabodys, 
this was doubtless true; for they had the art of attracting 
by their unmeasured benevolence the most worthless of 
the colored race. There is an occasional slip in the edit- 
ing of these Concord and Lenox letters; as where the 
beautiful Anna Shaw is spoken of as "Mrs. S. G. Ward"; 
in fact, she married Col. William Greene. Mrs. Ward 
was Anna Barker. There is an amusing, and quite truth- 
ful passage in a letter of Hawthorne's in 1857, describing 
S. G. Goodrich, who had been an early patron of the man 
of genius: 

As for Goodrich, I have rather a kindly feeling toward 
him, and he himself is not an unkindly man, in spite of 
his propensity to feed and fatten himself on better brains 
than his own. Only let him do that, and he will really 
sometimes put himself to some trouble to do a good- 
natured act . His quarrel with me was that I broke away 
from him before he had quite finished his meal, and while 
a portion of my brain was left; and I have not the slightest 
doubt that he really felt himself wronged by my so doing. 
Really, I half think so too. He was born to do what he did, 
as maggots to feed on rich cheese. 



I consider my husband a rare sight, gliding over the icy 
stream (of Concord river). Wrapped in his cloak, he looks 
very graceful, --perpetually darting from me in long, sweep- 
ing curves, and returning again, — again to shoot away. Of- 
ten other skaters appear, --young men and boys, who princi- 
pally interest me as foils to my husband, who, in the pres- 
ence of Nature, loses all shyness, and moves regally, like 
a king. One afternoon Mr. Emerson and Mr. Thoreau went 
with him down the river . Henry Thoreau is an experienced 
skater, and was figuring dithyrambic dances and Bacchic 
leaps on the ice, --very remarkable, but very ugly, me- 
thought. Next him followed Mr. Hawthorne, who, wrapped 
in his cloak, moved like a self-impelled Greek statue, 
stately and grave. Mr. Emerson closed the line, --evi- 
dently too weary to hold himself erect, pitching headfor- 
most, half lying on the air. He came in to rest himself, 



Among the acquaintances made by the shy Hawthorne at 
Brook Farm and Concord was George William Curtis, who 
lived with a Concord farmer for a time after leaving West 
Roxbury. Among the many letters printed by Mrs. Lath- 
rop in her entertaining book is one from Curtis at Rome, 
in January, 1847, after Ellery Channing had made his 
brief visit to Leghorn and Rome, and had published the 
second series of his poems, which I found in a sale cata- 
log the other day, ascribed to his uncle, the divine! Ear- 
lier letters from Curtis to John S. Dwight, written at 
Brook Farm, Concord, Rome, etc., appear among the 
Dwight papers, which G. W. Cooke is editing, and are 
to be published, I hear, by Harper in the autumn. This 
is a good find, for they preserve incidents of a romantic 
period which all the participants were rather shy of writ- 
ing about afterward . Curtis was present at the building of 



151 



Thoreau's hut by Walden, and took part with his brother 
Burrill in all the festivities of Concord, rural or of the 
village. 



(117) 
CONCORD IN 1867--- THOREAU AND HIS BOOKS 

It is worth while to see ourselves as others see us-- 
particularly the French noblesse. Some 30 years ago there 
came to Concord, where I met him at dinner, a then young 
Prince de Broglie, grandson of Mme. de Stael (born in 1834, 
long after his elder brother, the present due de Broglie), 
and at the age of 21 a midshipman in the French navy, 
where he rose to be a captain before 1869, when he left 
the service and became an ecclesiastic. He is now, if 
living, the Abbe Auguste Theodore Paul de Broglie; has 
long been professor of apologetics in the Catholic institute 
of Paris and a copious writer on the endless warfare be- 
tween religion and science. I am not aware that he has 
anywhere described his American journey; but the comte 
de Chabrol, one of a family of some renown in Auvergne-- 
I suppose a grandson of Chabrol de Crousol, who was the 
great man of Rion, and one of the Polignac ministry which 
caused the downfall of Charles X — has written in the Paris 
bi-monthly Correspondant a review of Father Hecker's 
biography, in which he describes Concord as he saw it in 
1867--about the time of Father de Broglie's visit. The 
page is worth citing for its mixture of truth and absurdity: 

The best known of the founders of Brook Farm was Em- 
erson. Like our Victor Cousin, who fancied himself a 
great philosopher and was a wonderful writer, Emerson, 
the illustrious master of Transcendentalism, was, above 
all, a great poet; and it is in that rank he will be recog- 
nized by posterity. ("C'est en cette qualite que l'avenir 
saluera.") At that time his review, the "Christian Exam- 
iner," guided the whole Unitarian movement of New Eng- 
land. Emerson had dictated the rules of this phalanstery; 
but, cautious, as he ever was, of his personality and his 
position, he had taken care not to commit himself by join- 
ing the community . He was already established in his 
plain but elegant abode at Concord, where he received the 
homage of his admirers. On the bank of some blue ponds 
("au bord des etangs blous caches dans les bois greles de 
ce pays qui fait penser") hidden in the slender forest of 
that pensive landscape, a few literati, like J. Thoreau 
(sic), had come to live a hermit life, under the direction 
of the great man. Emerson had a greater merit; this was 
to have led the rural population of that small town to an 
extraordinary point of culture . The old Puritan race had 
there kept itself singularly pure, and furnished an exam- 
ple of that select democracy which was the first form of 
republican institutions in Massachusetts . 

When we visited Concord in 1867, hardly a cottage 
there which had not a piano; three weekly papers, reli- 
gious, political and agricultural, were displayed on the 
table of the small "parlor"; and almost every evening the 
people came together to hear or to give a lecture. Emer- 
son inspired all that, from the depth of his religious se- 
clusion ("du fond de son sanctuaire"). His welcome was 
attractive, his conversation incomparable, and the strang- 
er (foreigner) who was permitted to enjoy it, kept a lively 



recollection of it. Must I confess, however, that one felt 
a kind of embarrassment, as in the presence of a divinity 
whose good nature was but the radiation of the homage 
paid to himself? His constant smile kept his interviewer 
far away from his thought, and seemed to say: "Have you 
the presumption to fathom it?" His benevolence savored 
too much of compassion; and his glance, now and then as 
sharp as cold steel, raised suspicions that the austerity 
of the Puritan sectary sometimes pierced through the in- 
difference of the pantheist . 

Mrs . Emerson was then quite given over to spiritual- 
ism; she wore a great white veil, stopped in the midst of 
a sentence to gaze into vacancy; and seemed much pre- 
occupied when you took a place on her sofa, where the 
greatest spirits, from Confucious to St. Paul, had the 
habit, it appears, of suddenly sitting by her side. Miss 
(Ellen) Emerson, a real saint, added to the filial devotion 
with which she waited on these two peculiar beings, a 
peaceful Christian faith, and the practice of the lowliest 
duties. In her presence you felt reassured. Her large, 
kindly eyes seemed to say: 'Don't be uneasy! ("soyez 
tranquille"), you are still in the land of the living, and 
among excellent persons, "--which was true. 

The amusing blunders of this description — about one 
capital error for every line --cannot wholly conceal the 
fact that the observer had eyes, though his inference from 
what he saw was so misguided by his own presupposition. 
Emerson no more founded Brook Farm than Cousin invent- 
ed Fourierism; he had as little to do with the Christian Ex- 
aminer as M. Chabrol with the Revue de Paris; Henry Tho- 
reau was the only hermit of Walden, and was not directed 
there by any man, great or small: 

Where his clear spirit leads him, there's his road. 

In 1867 there were not 20 pianos in Concord village, and 
most of those were out of tune; nor was the "remarkable 
degree of cultivation," which the Frenchman observed, 
due (except in part) to Emerson, any more than the "Gre- 
cian comity and provincial frugality" of Marseilles in 
Agricola's time, which Tacitus mentions were due to that 
great general, who happened to live there a few years. It 
is pardonable to mistake the borders of Mrs. Emerson's 
cap for a "great white veil," which she never wore; the 
talk about her conversing with Confucious and St. Paul, 
to the neglect of her callers , is pure nonsense . But this 
lively Auvergnat (the people of his province used to pass 
in Paris for Beotians) did really see the aspect of Emer- 
son, though he interpreted it after the fashion of men who 
think more of themselves than of the men they are talking 
with. His companion, --if he were the companion of the 
Prince de Broglie, as I suspect, --would have given a dif- 
ferent report, --being a man, as I remember, of singular 
modesty and grace, with the true bearing of a gentleman. 
M. Chabrol describes Charles Dana, whom he has occa- 
sion to mention, as "a marvelous talker, editor of the 
great monthly review, the Sun, and secretary of state 
during the secession war." His secretaryship was like 
the sword of Balaam, in the museum of the French show- 
man, --"Messieurs, this is the very sword Balaam the 
prophet wished for." 

Mr. Hubert, in the July Book Buyer, having visited 



152 



Concord more recently, comes nearer the truth of land- 
scape, and, as his topic is Thoreau, is more full and ex- 
act concerning him and his "vie de solitaire." But I notice 
some mistakes it may be well to correct, and which Mr. 
H. might have corrected had he read Thoreau's "Famil- 
iar Letters" more carefully. The Walden hut was moved 
by Hugh Whelan from its original site in 1848; then to the 
neighborhood of the Estabrook country, three miles north- 
west, before 1854; it stood there till about 10 years after 
Thoreau's death, when it collapsed and disappeared. Tho- 
reau's father died in 1859, not 1857; the payment for the 
printing of the Week was chiefly by pencil making, not by 
surveying; for Thoreau said in November, 1853, "I was 
obliged to manufacture $1000 worth of pencils, and slowly 
dispose of, and finally sacrifice them, in order to pay an 
assumed debt of $100." By surveying, for the same pur- 
pose, he earned $76. Mr. Hubert shows, however, that 
buyers of what assumes to be the second edition of the 
Week are really getting the unsold balance of the first edi- 
tion, --which commands a large price now. The first edi- 
tion of "Walden" sold the other day for $4.50, and copies 
have brought more, I fancy. This is as much as the new 
illustrated edition will fetch, I suppose, when it comes 
out. Meantime, while Willis's "Cape Cod" is forgotten, 
Thoreau's has had an illustrated edition, and still sells 
well in the original form . Yet Willis was a popular author 
in his day, and Thoreau had to wait years for a publisher; 
so unsubstantial is contemporary fame . 



His affection for this warm-hearted professor, whose 
special pupil Lyman became after graduation, and the 
fact that he and our classmate Alexander Agassiz mar- 
ried sisters (daughters of the late George R. Russell), 
seem to have given rise to the error that Louis Agassiz 
was his father-in-law. In fact, the two daughters of 
Agassiz married Henry Higginson and Quincy Shaw, -- 
the latter by marriage the uncle of Theodore Lyman. 
In college Lyman was gay, and finally studious, --having 
been so well fitted that he found the first years of college 
life too easy; he then devoted himself to natural science, 
and became a high authority in ichthyology, --serving the 
state long and well as fish commissioner. His war rec- 
ord, without being exceptionally brilliant like our class- 
mate Gen. Barlow's, was distinguished for good sense 
and courage in the performance of staff duty. As a youth 
he had a taste for military life, and his contributions to 
the Harvard magazine which the classes of '55 and '56 
founded in 1854, related chiefly to military themes, on 
which he joked, with a substratum of excellent sense. 
His literary fame in college, however, rests chiefly on 
a Hasty Pudding club song, --"Long Since When our Fore- 
fathers Landed, "--which is still sung at feasts of the 
brethren, even as Lyman himself used to sing it when 
"chorister" of that ancient club. 

Harry Marten, the wit of the Puritan commonwealth, 
lingering out his days of imprisonment at Chepstow, 
wrote an acrostic in his prison, which thus closes: 



(118) 
THE LATE THEODORE LYMAN 

It is pleasant to see, even by the mistakes made in the 
obituary notices of my classmate "Ted" Lyman, that his 
death was not forestalled by those elaborate encomia sent 
to the daily newspapers, sometimes years in advance of 
their use, which have become common in this advertising 
age. Few men needed such prepared tributes less; his 
career in public being well known, and his private friend- 
ships many and almost world-wide. His father had studied 
in Edinburg, and seen the great Goethe at Weimar, in the 
early years of our century; he had also taken this son 
abroad before sending him to Harvard, --where, indeed, 
Mayor Lyman did not live to see him, for he died in 1849, 
after providing for the first state reform school in the 
country, at Westboro, where it now bears the appropriate 
name of the "Lyman school." Theodore, third of the name, 
was born 23 years after his father's graduation at Harvard, 
and graduated 45 years after, --an unusually long interval 
between father and son at the same college. He was first 
cousin, by his mother's side, to President Eliot of Har- 
vard, grandson of the Eliot who established there in 1814 
the Greek professorship now held by Prof. Goodwin. As 
Mayor Lyman concealed for some years the fact that he 
had endowed the Westboro school, so Samuel Eliot only 
revealed by his death his foundation of this professorship; 
traits of munificence that were once more common in Bos- 
ton than now, but which the late Theodore Lyman inherited. 

Our classmate also inherited cheerful spirits, ready 
wit, a mind open rather than profound, but sincerely de- 
voted to exact knowledge, --especially after he came in 
contact with that gifted teacher of science, Louis Agassiz. 



Examples preach to the eye, --heed then, mine says, 
Not how you end, but how you spend your days. 

It was the fortune of Theodore Lyman to end his prosper- 
ous and happy life in long and irksome disease, whose 
only changes were from bad to worse. It was then that 
the genuine character of our friend came out in the no- 
blest form. That cheerful temper which might have 
seemed levity in youth was found to be the fortitude of 
the dying soldier, and the consolation of despairing 
friends. His best title to remembrance is neither his 
liberality nor his talent, --but that unfailing endurance 
of the worst physical ills, and the generosity of soul 
with which he spared to others the suffering he could 
not avoid, but of which he would not complain. 

Concord, September 11, 1897. F. B. S. 



(119) 
HAWTHORNE 'S HAUNTS IN MAINE 

The biographers of Hawthorne have done scant justice 
to his early years and the slow steps by which he arrived 
at so perfect a style, and an art so peculiar to himself 
that hardly a parallel can be found for him in any nation. 
Ellery Charming called him "New England's Chaucer," 
but that only hinted at his story -telling faculty, in which 
imagination, description and the dramatic art were min- 
gled as in Chaucer, but without the accomplishment of 
verse. Hawthorne himself, if fond of personal talk, 
loved to disguise his personality in masks and veils of 
fiction; and was very careful not to expose the secrets 
of his literary apprenticeship. He selected only a por- 
tion of his earlier published writings for preservation in 



153 



his later volumes; and he refused all continuance of life 
to his slender youthful novel, "Fanshawe,"--in which may 
plainly be seen the influence on the young author's imagi- 
nation of the wild scenery of the forest and lake country 
of Maine, 25 or 30 miles northwest of Portland, in which 
so much of his boyhood was spent. The same scenery ap- 
pears in several of his "Twice- Told Tales," and in those 
which he told but once, --refusing to collect them from the 
magazines and annuals in which they had first been print- 
ed. Neither Julian Hawthorne nor his brother-in-law, Mr. 
Lathrop, have taken pains enough to trace out these ne- 
glected writings, which can easily be identified; and they 
take too little account of the curious and interesting diary 
of Nat Hawthorne, the boy in the Maine woods, which Mr. 
Pickard, the biographer of Whittier, has described and 
partly printed in a small volume, --"Hawthorne's First 
Diary," lately published by Houghton. There can be no 
doubt that this was a genuine diary, beginning at the date 
(June 1, 1816) when his uncle, Richard Manning, gave him 
the blank book from which Symmes copied the passages 
that have several times been printed, though the book it- 
self has disappeared. 

Nat Hathorn (so the name was then written and pro- 
nounced, --with the accent on the "Ha," which sounded as 
does the interjection) was not 12 years old when his un- 
cle gave him the book, with the excellent written advice, 
"that he write out his thoughts, some every day, in as good 
words as he can, upon any and all subjects; as it is one of 
the best means of his securing for mature years, command 
of thought and language." The lad followed the advice, and 
continued to write in this book until after August, 1816, -- 
and in many another note book for at least 40 years longer. 
And it was by this habit and by the careful use Hawthorne 
made of his notes, when enlarging them to write his pub- 
lished books, that he partly owed the precision and polish 
of his style. This diary shows, however, that he had the 
gift of close observation and clear description at an age 
when most boys can write nothing worth reading. It seems 
to have been forgotten by Hawthorne; he had left it with his 
uncle, whose widow, one of the Dingley family (early set- 
tlers of Raymond) married Francis Radoux, an officer un- 
der Napoleon, for her second husband, and kept the manu- 
script book in her house by Dingley Brook, whence her 
books were removed after her death, and this particular 
one stolen by a Raymond soldier in the civil war (Small, 
of the 25th Maine regiment), by whom it was given to Wil- 
liam Symmes. This account is every way probable, and 
it is quite likely the original may yet be found and put in 
some library or private collection. It was last heard of 
in Alexandria, Va., where Symmes sometimes dwelt. 

The descent and career of William Symmes, into whose 
hands the diary fell in the manner above-named, were wor- 
thy of introduction in one of Hawthorne's tales, had he cho- 
sen to make himself acquainted with the story, as perhaps 
he was . This illegitimate son of a (presumably) Virginian 
slave-woman, was descended from a long line of Harvard 
graduates and Puritan ministers on his father's side. Wil- 
liam Symmes, his father, graduated at Harvard in 1780, 
and became a leading lawyer in Portland, after living for 
a time as tutor in Virginia; he was preceded by five gener- 
ations of Harvard graduates, all ministers, --the first 
Zechariah Symmes of the class of 1657, being the son of 
an English clergyman of the same name, who was the son 



of a William, also an English clergyman, whose father 
had suffered persecution under Bloody Mary. The Port- 
land lawyer seems to have been the first of his race to 
practice law: he died unmarried, and the mulatto child, 
born in 1805, was his only descendant. When the boy 
was two years old, his father died, and soon after he 
was adopted by Capt. Britton of Otisfield (now Naples) a 
town adjoining Raymond, and there educated in the com- 
mon school. By the time Nat Hawthorne went to Raymond 
to visit his uncle, in 1813 or later, "Bill Symmes" would 
be eight years old, and for seven years or so the two 
boys were occasionally playmates . While Hawthorne was 
in college, the colored lad grew up, and went to sea the 
very year that his friend graduated at Bowdoin. He fol- 
lowed the sea for 25 years, and toward the end of his 
sailor life, he declared that he met Hawthorne, then con- 
sul there, in the streets of Liverpool. Then followed 
this statement by Symmes: 

Hawthorne recognized me across the street, and "hove 
me to." We had a long talk, and he conversed in that easy, 
bewitching style of which he was perfect master when he 
pleased. I asked if he had ever been in Raymond since 
his mother moved back to Salem (about 1822). He an- 
swered, "I have, but have no wish to go again; for, soon 
after we left, Uncle Richard rented the house to Col. 
Eben Scribner to keep a stage tavern. Everything I loved 
was neglected; our fruit trees died, and now they have 
turned the old mansion into a meeting-house. Uncle Rich- 
ard is dead; my idols are destroyed, and I have no desire 
to revisit the places where their altars stood. But I have 
never seen the place that enchanted me like the flat rock 
at the outlet of Thomas pond, from which we used to fish. 
In an October afternoon, just when the oak trees put on 
their red coats, the view from that spot, looking to the 
slopes of Rattlesnake mountain, through the haze of Indian 
summer, was to me more enchanting than anything I have 
seen since; and I have seriously thought of inducing some 
artist to go to Raymond in the pleasant autumn to make 
for me a view from the rock where we used to play. 

If this was written by Symmes, or by some person to 
whom he gave the hint, it shows equally well a recollec- 
tion and power of writing which are interesting. Some 
friend of Symmes, who wrote his obituary at his death in 
October, 1 871 , said therein that he had made the acquaint- 
ance of Col. L. C. Baker, of the secret service during the 
civil war, and was employed by him as a spy. In this 
service he had various names, Asa Hicks, Thad Turner, 
"Caswell's Corner," Deacon Lovell, "College Swamp," 
Deacon Hancock, etc., and made enemies; to avoid whom 
he lived secluded at Alexandria, Va., and Georgetown. 
In his later years he was a devout Methodist, and would 
repeat hymns which his foster-mother, Beulah Britton, 
had taught him when a boy. He boasted that in his boy- 
hood he used to play with Senator Fessenden and Haw- 
thorne; and that they never offended him on account of 
his color. He outlived Hawthorne by seven years, and 
it was only in the sixth year (1870) that he began to print 
passages from the diary. 

All this, arrayed in the colors of Hawthorne's imagina- 
tion, would have made a fascinating tale; and the power 
of story-telling, by all accounts, began with him early. 



154 



Symmes speaks of it, specifying "witch and ghost stories"; 
and Hawthorne relates that when they were in college, his 
friend, Horatio Bridge, foretold he would be a writer of fic- 
tion. Small trace of this gift appears in these fragments of 
a journal; but the habit of minute observation and precise 
statement, so essential to a novelist, are very obvious in 
the childish pages. Moreover, we see how his fancy was 
colored, not only by the old-fashioned life and tragic his- 
tory of Salem, with its witch hangings and murders, but 
also by the wild scenery and somber forests of Maine. It 
would not be strange if the region about Sebago lake and 
Dingley brook and Radoux's Mill should become some day 
a resort of the readers of Hawthorne, tracing out the ma- 
terial basis of his genius. Mr. Pickard's little book is 
quite justified by the very proper interest taken in a gen- 
ius so singular as that of the older Hawthorne. The Amer- 
ican note books, published by Mrs. Hawthorne after her 
husband's death, and full of good things, are but this boy- 
ish diary carried up into the higher and more varied ex- 
periences of the man. The New England Magazine, which 
lately had a full account of the Salisbury hero, Maj. Pike, 
contemporary and colleague of Hawthorne's first American 
ancestor, Maj. William Hathorn, will soon publish one of 
the hitherto overlooked tales of the youthful Hawthorne, 
who first inserted the "w" in his family name. 



(120) 
EMERSON AND STERLING 

It is rather a pity that, in the great mass of Emerson's 
correspondence and journalizing and table-talk, the first 
selection made since his death (the Carlyle-Emerson cor- 
respondence having appeared during Emerson's lifetime) 
should be this slender volume which Houghton publishes 
concerning John Sterling, --an interesting personality, 
but with whom the interchange of thought was brief and 
comparatively youthful. Sterling, three years younger 
than Emerson, died at 36; and up to 1844 Emerson, though 
writing much that will ever charm the reader who can dis- 
tinguish high thought from contemporary rhetoric, had not 
reached the maturity of his versatile powers, and was still 
too much involved in the clerical vestments he had been 
striving for a dozen years to throw off: 

The inbred parson struggling to get free 

His upper parts, --then springs as broke from bonds. 

Sterling also had undergone this parsonic stage of develop- 
ment, but had broken from its bonds with more resent- 
ment, as these letters declare. Thus, at the end of 1841, 
he writes: 

In England we not only have the same aggressive ma- 
terial element as in the United States, but a second fact 
unknown there, namely, the social authority of Church 
Orthodoxy, derived from the close connection between the 
aristocracy (that is the rich) and the clergy. How remark- 
able it is that the critical and historical difficulties of the 
Bible were pointed out by clear-sighted English writers 
more than a century ago, and thence passed, through Vol- 
taire, into the whole mind of continental Europe, --and yet 
that, in this country, both the facts and the books about 



them remain utterly unknown except to a few recluses ! 
The overthrow of our dead biblical dogmatism must, how- 
ever, be preparing, and may be nearer than appears. 
The great curse is the wretched and seemingly hopeless 
mechanical pedantry of our monastic college at Oxford 
and Cambridge. 

As Sterling himself had a rather brilliant career at 
Cambridge, where his youthful humor cast a flash of light 
on the parsonic environment in which he afterward found 
himself; ("Has not the church a black dragoon in every 
parish, on good pay and rations, horse-meat and man's- 
meat, to patrol and battle for her?")- -this testimony 
against the universities was the more searching. Jowett 
and Stanley took the matter up a few years later, --Jowett 
saying in 1848: "Can it be truly said that much has been 
done in Oxford during the last 20 years for scriptural in- 
terpretation, which seems to be the most hopeful mine in 
theology, and, strangely enough, the least explored?" In 
June, 1842, Sterling adds : "Thought is leaking into this 
country; even Strauss sells. I hear his copyright is worth 
more in Germany than that of any living writer, — his 
books selling like Bulwer's novels among us." And now, 
after 55 years, Strauss is long passed by, and Arthur 
Balfour has been sinking a shaft to find the "foundations 
of belief" in England. 

Emerson recognized and perhaps did not overrate the 
high quality of Sterling in his books, --mostly now forgot- 
ten, --his special criticism of the poems and the deceased 
tragedy of "Strafford," which was dedicated to Emerson, 
has much weight; for he was our best critic, though some- 
what capricious and variable. In 1840 Emerson wrote: "I 
have read your poems with great pleasure. The ballad of 
Alfred (the Harper) delighted me when I first read it; but 
I read it so often to my friends that I discovered the last 
verses were not equal to the rest. Shall I gossip on, and 
tell you that the two lines, 

Still lives the song though Regnar dies! 
Fill high your cups again, 

rung for a long time in my ear, and had a kind of witch- 
craft for my fancy. I confess I am a little subject to 
these aberrations. I believe I do not set an equal value 
on all the pieces, yet I must count him happy who has this 
delicious music in his brain, who can strike the chords of 
rhyme with a brave and true stroke." 

"These aberrations" were indeed characteristic of Em- 
erson. Soon after Tennyson's "Maud" came out, he said: 
"As I was walking with N. in the autumnal woods this 
afternoon, we thought that all Maud was filled with the 
description of these golden colors; but on looking in the 
book we found only these two lines: 

And out he walked when the wind like a broken 

worlding wailed. 
And the flying gold of the ruined woodlands drove 

through the air. 

Sterling's dedication of "Strafford" to Emerson is worth 
rescuing from the grave of that buried tragedy, over which 
Margaret Fuller, in the Dial for January, 1844, raised a 
sepulchral monument almost as huge as that of Schliemann 



155 



at Athens, and with more bad verse inscribed: 

Teacher of starry wisdom high, serene, 

Receive the gift our common ground supplies; 

Red flowers, dark leaves, --that ne'er on earth had been 
Without the influence of sidereal skies . 



(121) 

TENNYSON AND EMERSON 

It is plain that the amiable son of Tennyson who writes 
his excellent but too profuse biography, knows more of 
England and his own wide circle of acquaintance than he 
does of America, --or, for that matter, of most foreign 
countries. He calls our famous singers, the Hutchinson 
family, "ladies, "--though they spoke and sung of them- 
selves as "a band of brothers," and had but one sister in 
their choir — the Abby whom Tennyson praised without hav- 
ing heard her . The son thinks his father began to be known 
as a poet in America about 1837; but Emerson wrote to 
Carlyle in 1844, --"Tennyson is an old favorite of mine; I 
owned his book before I saw your face, "--that is, before 
August 25, 1833, when Emerson went to see Carlyle at 
Craigenputtock . And Ellery Channing assures me that he 
used to read Tennyson's verses as they came out at rare 
intervals in the magazines, before 1835, when he was 
as unknown to the public in England as Hawthorne was in 
America. These two men of genius had much in common, 
--Hawthorne writing good prose, which Tennyson never 
quite effected, --and Tennyson exquisite verse, which Haw- 
thorne rarely attempted. The same force of imagination, 
the same sensitiveness, the same unlikeness to their gen- 
eration, --and even the same personal beauty, --were seen 
in the recluse son of the Lincolnshire parson and the her- 
mit of Salem and the Maine woods. 

His biographer cites, in part, Carlyle's description of 
Tennyson to Emerson in August, 1844, --omitting some 
touches which I may supply. "Alfred is the son of a Lin- 
colnshire gentleman farmer, I think" (a blunder of Carlyle, 
such as he often made); "indeed, you see in his verses 
that he is a native of 'moated granges' and green, fat pas- 
tures, not of mountains and their torrents and storms. He 
often skips me, in his brief visits to London; skips every- 
body, indeed, being a man solitary and sad, as certain 
men are, — dwelling in an element of gloom; carrying a 
bit of Chaos about him, in short, which he is manufactur- 
ing into Cosmos. He is often unwell; very chaotic, — his 
way is through Chaos and the Bottomless and Pathless." 
There was a special reason for his sadness in that year, 
as we shall see presently, --a trouble about money mat- 
ters, --which assumed in Tennyson's eyes a gravity that 
seems now amusing, but was to him very awful, --as Eng- 
lishmen in general look on such things . A great contrast 
was this to Emerson's habit in pecuniary trials, of which 
he had his full share, in early and in middle life. It is 
not true, however, as Senator Hoar has lately written, in 
comment on some stupid scribbler, that Emerson "had no 
money to lend," for, in his frank exhibit of his circum- 
stances to Carlyle in 1838, Emerson wrote: "Besides my 
house, I have, I believe, $22,000, whose income in ordi- 
nary years is 6 per cent." This he had inherited some six 
years before, and continued to hold until, by an unlucky 



investment in railroad shares, much of it disappeared. 
Of course it had been lent in some form before, --else it 
would not have yielded $1300 a year, but perhaps not in 
mortgages . When it disappeared Emerson made no great 
wail about it; not being so anxious as most Englishmen 
are about money. When Tennyson was dining in Ireland, 
and a young person by whom he sat spoke of a certain 
wedding as "penniless," the poet fumbled in his pocket 
for a big penny, clapped it down before his fair neighbor 
with a bang and said: "There I I give you that, --it is the 
god you worship," whereat she was much amazed and flus- 
tered, to hear the truth thus declared in sincerity. But 
she was not alone in her religion. 

There is a true English jingle of £ s. d.- -mingled with 
the golden and silvery notes of the Muse, — at intervals in 
the first volume. A certain English Dr. Allen (it would 
be such a relief to the British mind to be able to call him 
an American!), a medical man and promoter of wood- 
carving by machinery, had between 1840 and 1844 per- 
suaded the innocent Tennysons to put several thousand 
pounds into his carving scheme. "The confidence Lord 
Tennyson had placed in the 'earnest-frothy' Dr. Allen 
proved to be misplaced. The entire project collapsed; 
my father's worldly goods were all gone, and a portion 
of the property of his brothers and sisters. Then followed 
a season of real hardship; so severe a hypochondria set 
in upon him that his friends despaired of his life." His 
brother-in-law, Lushington, insured Dr. Allen's life for 
a part of the debt in 1844, and the disappointing doctor 
thoughtfully died in the next January. Upon receipt of the 
news, which restored to the poet a part of his property, 
by the life insurance, Tennyson wrote to FitzGerald: "No 
gladness crossed my heart, but sorrow and pity; that's 
not theatrical, but the truth." In the following September 
Sir Robert Peel put him on the pension list for 200 pounds; 
but when Milnes and Hallam urged the premier to do it 
(Sheridan Knowles being the other candidate for a pen- 
sion), it came out that Peel, the schoolmate of Byron, had 
read neither Tennyson nor Knowles ! Milnes gave him 
"Ulysses" to read, and presently Peel wrote to Hallam 
(not to Tennyson, as the book says), "I rejoice that you 
have enabled me to fulfil the intention of Parliament by 
advising the crown to confer a mark of royal favor on one 
who has devoted to worthy purposes great intellectual pow- 
ers." What Peel did say to Tennyson was that he "need not 
be fettered by his pension in the public expression of any 
opinion." Upon the whole matter the poet thus wrote to 
his clerical friend Rawnsley: 

I have gone through a vast deal of suffering (as to 
money difficulties in my family, etc. , ) since I saw you 
last, and would not live it over again for quadruple the 
pension Peel has given me. Well, I suppose I ought in a 
manner to be grateful. I have done nothing slavish to get 
it. I never even solicited for it, either by myself or 
through others . It was all done for me without word or 
hint from me. . . . Something in that word "pension" sticks 
in my gizzard; it is only the name, and perhaps would 
"smell sweeter" by some other. I feel the least bit pos- 
sible Miss Martineauish about it. You know she refused 
one, saying "she should be robbing the people, who did 
not make laws for themselves." However, that is non- 
sense. If the people did make laws for themselves, --if 



156 



these things went by universal suffrage, what literary man 
would get a lift? Meantime there is some meaning in hav- 
ing a gentleman and a classic at the head of affairs, who 
may now and then direct the stream of public bounty to us, 
poor devils, --whom the Grundyites would not only not re- 
munerate, but kick out of society as barely respectable. 
For Calliope herself, as I have heard, never kept a gig, 
but walks barefoot about the sacred hill, no better than an 
Irish-woman. 

The new element which Tennyson introduced, or re- 
stored to English poetry, was its pictorial power, which 
had become dimmed or overcast with too much rhetoric in 
the poets of the 18th and early 19th centuries. His friend 
Arthur Hallam well said, in 1831, "Poetry cannot be too 
pictorial, for it cannot represent too truly; it is the busi- 
ness of the poetic language to paint." Less concisely he 
added, what is also very true, "It is observable in the 
models of art left for the worship of ages by the Greeks, 
and in those too rare specimens of Roman production 
which breathe a Greek spirit, that their way of imaging 
a mood of the human heart resembles much Alfred's man- 
ner of delineation. You will find instances in all the Greek 
poems of the highest order, --I can only call into distinct 
recollection the divine passage about the sacrifice of Iphi- 
genia in Lucretius, the desolation of Ariadne in Catullus, 
and the fragments of Sappho, --in all which I see much 
congeniality to Alfred's peculiar power." It may be said, 
too, that this power was as manifest in his early poems 
as in his more labored later ones; the "Ode to Memory," 
the "Lotos Eaters" and "Ulysses" show it as much as the 
"Princess" or the "Idylls." 

This letter is not a criticism on Tennyson's biography, 
which is so much more than a mere life of the man. It ap- 
pears that Tennyson, though so good a poet (yet he never 
quite got over that trait in verse-making which caused Em- 
erson to style his verse "factitious"), was equally good as 
a critic, especially of other poets. No man was more 
sensitive to the quality of verse written by others, and 
he once declared of himself that he knew the metrical 
"quantity" of every English word except "scissors." His 
experiments in the classic meters were extraordinarily 
good, --particularly his imitation of the Sapphic and Adon- 
ic, of Sappho herself. . . . 

His reminiscence of the poem of Catullus on the death 
of his brother, brings in also the same poet's delight in 
the peninsula ("all-but-island") of Sirmio in northern Italy, 
which he visited from Verona, the birthplace of Catullus, 
in 1880: 

Row us out from Desenzano, to your Sirmione 
row! 

So they rowed, and there we landed, --0 venusta 
Sirmio! 

There to me through all the groves of olive in 
the summer glow, 

There beneath the Roman ruin, where the purple 
flowers grow, 

Came that "Ave atque Vale" of the poet's hope- 
less woe, — 

Tenderest of Roman poets nineteen hundred 
years ago, -- 



"F rater Ave atque Vale" as we wandered to 

and fro 
Gazing at the Lydian laughter of the Garda 

lake below, -- 
Sweet Catullus's all-but-island, olive-silvery 

Sirmio! 

Few poets would be capable of the mastery at once of 
verse and landscape-painting which this poem shows; yet 
Catullus really excelled Tennyson in this art, when the 
Veronan poet wrote at his best, and followed his Greek 
masters most faithfully. . . . 

There was not much of the parson about him, after 
all; he said that Giordano Bruno, that contemporary of 
Sir Philip Sidney whom the pope burnt alive, --as he 
would have burnt Sidney, could he have caught him, -- 
'"was a poet, holding his mind ever open to new truths; 
his view of God is in some ways mine." Of our Whitman 
he said, "Walt neglects form altogether, but there is a 
fine spirit breathing through his writings." These were 
among his deathbed sayings, --another was, "In his 
smaller poems Goethe shows himself to be one of the 
great artists of the world. He is also a great critic. 
Good critics are rarer than good authors." "Keats was 
not a master of blank verse; it might be true of Words- 
worth at his best." This is good criticism. He scorned 
the aspersion that he borrowed from Joshua Sylvester, 
as Waller did; yet he actually borrows from Marvell in 
"The Talking Oak." But all good poets, like all great 
merchants, are borrowers; the question is, do they pay 
interest? Tennyson mostly did . 



(122) 
WALT WHITMAN NOW SUMMED UP 

When I saw the other day the crowds gazing at the 
"Whitman window" in the Old Corner bookstore, the 
words of scripture occurred to me, "The stone which 
the builders rejected has become the head of the corner." 
For Boston has twice rejected Whitman as a poet, --the 
last time "with spattering noise" as did those hissing 
critics mentioned by Milton in the 10th book of the Para- 
dise Lost, --when the state's attorney, tasting Osgood's 
edition of "Leaves of Grass, "-- 

With hatefulest disrelish writhed his jaws 
With soot and cinders filled. 

Now comes the third Boston edition, by Small, Maynard 
& Co. , and there is a whole window-full of portraits, 
manuscripts, rare imprints, etc., to advertise the way- 
farer (though a fool) that here is a good gray poet whom 
Boston has adopted, --as she adopted Garrison, after 
dragging him through her streets in mob fury. We have 
not only the revised and definitive "Leaves of Grass" in 
460 finely printed pages; but two volumes of Letters, -- 
those to Peter Doyle (of no great literary value, but curi- 
ous as a "human document"), and this new volume of War 
Letters, edited by Dr. Bucke, and answering forever 
those carps and sneers at Whitman for not enlisting as 
a soldier to put down the rebellion. Mostly they are let- 
ters to his mother, whose fine old Dutch vrouw's face is 



157 



heliotyped from a daguerreotype of 1855 to front the let- 
ters from her warm-hearted son. Neither do these epis- 
tles aim at literary merit; but they have the higher merit 
of portraying and recalling the pathetic side of the civil 
war, --much needing to be recalled now, --whensoever the 
war-fever seizes on editors or Washington bugle-blowers 
(the blowing is more material than the choice of instru- 
ment, --a Jew's-harp will answer the purpose of the ordi- 
nary annexer of orphan islands), — and very moving in the 
testimony to the simple greatness of Whitman, not always 
seen through veils of affectation. 

"The Wound-Dresser" is the title chosen by Dr. Bucke 
for this latest book, in which Whitman as a domestic per- 
son and patriot is summed up, much as, in the Verses, he 
is summed up as thinker and poet, --thinker and observer 
first, poet secondarily, and not always at the best. For 
Whitman's theory of poetry, like Wordsworth's early whim- 
sies on the subject, shows more will and purpose than in- 
sight. He is not a great poet, any more than Wordsworth 
was, by virtue of his theory, but of his condition, --which 
always confronted these two poets, while theory was only 
the occasional, invited guest. To give Theory a seat in 
the study, while the poet is out as an observer, was the 
habit of both the W. W. authors; and thus we get what 
Tennyson called, in speaking of certain Greek poets, 

Jewels five words long, 
That on the stretched forefinger of old Time 
Sparkle forever. 

The funny English critic who had Wordsworth's epitaph 
written, after "Peter Bell": 

Here lies the Muse of W. W. , 

Who never more will trouble you, trouble you, -- 

has been paralleled by the American critics that, begin- 
ning with seasickness whenever they read Whitman's ex- 
tensive, billowy verse, have for 40 years been foretelling 
the fall of this rockety meteor in the placid sky of Ameri- 
can poetry. Our W. W. continues to trouble you, trouble 
you, --ye chorus of irresponsible reviewers; and the cho- 
rus itself waxes fainter, with its "Brek ek ek ek, koax, 
koax," as the orbed moon of Whitman's waxing and wan- 
ing magniloquence continues to sail in the evening sky. A 
poet can afford many dull and some trivial lines, who has 
given us such quotations as 

"The disdain and calmness of martyrs, "-- 

"We the youthful sinewy races, --all the rest on us 

depend, "-- 
"Her high-borne turbaned head she wags, and rolls 

her darkling eye, 
And curtesies to the regiments, the guidons moving 

by." 

Not in single lines, however, or in triplets or slices 
or poems, does Whitman shine so much as in those long 
sweeps of pantheistic thought which so won the attention 
and praise of Emerson when the first quarto of the now 
vast volume appeared in 1855. Beyond this exaltation of 
mind Whitman never rose; and as he sometimes fell below 
it, Emerson gradually lost interest in the later poems, -- 



though never in the man himself; the war-poems did not 
appeal to him, as they did to most readers, --though he 
applauded the act of the man in throwing himself helpfully 
into the war as friend of the hospitals. To this side of 
his life ("The Wound-Dresser") does justice; and to the 
patience with which he endured, from Harlan and others 

The insolence of office, and the spurns 
Which patient merit from the unworthy takes. 

One curious fact is revealed, --a tribute from a stranger 
to the cordial Americanism of Whitman- -what Preston 
King, then a New York senator, said to him, when he was 
modestly seeking a place as clerk to allow him to carry 
on his hospital work without running in debt. Sumner had 
interested himself, as Emerson had, — and now (February, 
1863), Whitman goes to his own senator: "The first thing 
he said to me the other day, in the parlor chambers of the 
Senate, when I sent in for him and he came out, was, 'Why, 
how can I do this thing, or anything for you? how do I know 
but you are a secessionist? You look for all the world like 
an old southern planter, --a regular Carolina or Virginia 
planter.*" So he did, --and thus came within the scope of 
his early variorum edition of himself, -- 

I am of old and young, the foolish as much as the wise . 

A southerner soon as a northerner, a planter nonchalant 
and hospitable. 

A Yankee bound my own way, --ready for trade, — my 
joints the limberest joints on earth, and the stern- 
est joints on earth. 

A Kentuckian walking the vale of the Elkhorn in my deer- 
skin leggins. 

A Louisianian or Georgian, a poke-easy from sandhills 
and pines . 

(I may note in passing that this last phrase is dropt in re- 
vision, like many others . ) 

Among the affectations of Whitman, the most marked 
were those affecting his written or spoken words; and 
some of these appear in these domestic letters . Though 
faultless in grammar, when he saw fit, he often varied, 
in compliance with the custom of others, or because the 
whim took him. Thus in writing to his mother, who may 
be presumed to have said "I see him" where the old Bos- 
tonian would have said "I sor him," Whitman wrote, "The 
niggers here are the best and most amusing creatures 
you ever see" (for "saw"). There are several Instances 
of this, and much pleasant colloquialism ,-- "mean old 
punkinheads," "I don't think I ever saw a young one I took 
to so much," "It is a great humbug, spreeing around," 
"He said he see it in the papers ." The late Jared Sparks 
would have edited such things out, as he did in Washing- 
ton's letters; but here they do no harm, and are perhaps 
natural, the survival of early habit among the rustics of 
Long Island. This rustic simplicity clung to Walt, who 
with all his reading and writing, and his "libertad" and 
"Allons" and "camerado" and "en masse," was at bottom 
a Long Island Quaker, of Elias Hicks's school, --which 
may have been the reason why he did not enlist to aid in 
killing his fellow men. Plain good sense lay behind his 
affectations; his view of a subject is always a kindly- 
sensible one, --keen to see the smallness and follies of 



158 



men, but seldom angry with them for their foibles. He tells 
his mother in April, 1864, of Congress, --"It is very curi- 
ous and melancholy to see such a rate of talent there, such 
tremendous times as these, --I should say about the same 
range of genius as our old friend Dr. Swaim, --just about." 
Of Lincoln he early formed the right opinion; in October, 
1863, he writes, "I believe fully in Lincoln, --few know 
the rocks and quicksands he has to steer through"; as if in 
anticipation of the noble verses he wrote on "My Captain" 
after Lincoln's murder. 

The strongest impression you get from the letters is 
of simple domestic affection, like that of Thoreau for his 
mother and sister; like him, Whitman is here seen to have 
been a "home body," as Channing called Thoreau; full of 
great thoughts, not without oddities, and occasionally pos- 
ing, --but true-hearted and simple, --content with little; 
always poor, never repining, magnanimous and unselfish, 
and, as now appears, owing his long paralysis of 20 years 
to his labors among the sick and wounded in the gangrened 
air of hospitals, --a service to which he went as a volun- 
teer, and of which his 'Drum-Taps" will be, perhaps, the 
most enduring record. 



(123) 

THE EMERSONIAN PUZZLE AND THE 
CRITICISM OF CONTRADICTION 

As the critics approach Emerson, one after another, 
and try to solve the problem that he presents (they have 
been doing this for more than half a century now), it is 
striking to see how they misconstrue him for lack of that 
personal acquaintance which furnishes the clew to a prob- 
lematic nature. Even this does not always save them from 
the zenith and the nadir of absurdity, as we see by some 
of the amazing criticism which Carlyle--by no means a 
dull or unobservant man- -passed upon his Concord friend. 
Emerson was protected by what he mentions of his hero, -- 

Whom Nature giveth for defense 
His formidable innocence; 

he was so straight-minded and so free from the customary 
wiles and vanities of authorship that the critics have over- 
shot him or grubbed beneath him --aiming at a lower or a 
higher mark. 

Two American critics, Mr. Stillman, who must always 
be saying something, and J.J. Chapman, who will be wiser 
when he fancies himself less wise and abstains more from 
hollow epigrams, have lately had their shy at Emerson's 
statue in the Pantheon of authorship, and both say good 
things which they take great pains to spoil by other things 
they say. Mr. Chapman, being the younger of the two 
(Mr. Stillman confessed to 70 years in 1897, when he 
printed his book in London), naturally upsets his own cart 
the more often; indeed, paradox and self-contradiction 
seem to be among his brevets of authorship. He begins 
his appreciation of the Concord seer in his "Emerson and 
Other Essays" by a series of paradoxes or sham epigrams 
which have a false air of profundity, when they are really 
the arrows of a tyro shot at a venture, upon the chance of 
hitting something and sticking there. He is surprised at 
'the identity of content in all great deliverances," but why 



should not the greatly delivered be identically content? 
Emerson "is the most recent example of elemental hero 
worship." Indeed? and pray what may that be? as the 
British matron asked Mrs. George Hudson, when gazing 
at her statuette of Marcus Aurelius, in her fine, but ill- 
appreciated collection of bric-a-brac. "That," replied 
Mrs. H., bridling, and deepening her reverential voice, 
"that is Markis Aurelius; but w'ether it is the late Markis 
or the present Markis I can't inform you, mum." 

But we are informed by Mr. Chapman that "by no power 
could Emerson's creed be used for purposes of tyranny." 
Could it be used, perhaps, for heating and ventilation? or 
for testing formic acid? 'Dogma cannot be extracted from 
it. Schools cannot be built on it." That is a comfort; but 
how does it appear to be so? Emerson, says Chapman, 
"has accomplished the inconceivable feat of eluding mis- 
conception"; and then he proves the inconceivability by 
adding 20 misconceptions of his own to the 200 already 
existing of the character, writings and mission of Emer- 
son. "He is a sheer and pure type and creature of desti- 
ny; he is a product." So is a hen; so is the upright and 
downright John Jay Chapman himself; but what of it? The 
grand, fundamental question, Which was first, the hen 
or the egg? receives no solution from these "great de- 
liverances ." We are told that 'the revolting spirit of an 
archangel thought out Emerson's creed"; that he was "a 
Shelley, and yet a sort of Yankee Shelley"; that his first 
book "adapts itself to our mood and has the quality of 
poetry, "--but, alas! it was but 'the efflorescence of 
youth," and the poor man soon lost it; "it is the quality 
missing in his poetry." If the mirror could reflect it- 
self, who could better judge the efflorescence, etc., 
than J. J. C? 

"Strangely enough," sighs the puzzled but still efflo- 
rescent youth, 'the world has always insisted upon ac- 
cepting Emerson as a thinker." But we know better; you 
cannot fool the sage Chapman by any such nonsense; he 
is neither a thinker nor a writer, — he is a speaker and 
a character. "He was fairly made drunk with the physi- 
cal life he found in England"; 'the ethical assumption that 
all men are exactly alike permeates his work"; he re- 
veals, before he has uttered three sentences, 'that he 
does not know what art is, that he has never experienced 
any form of sensation from it, he never in his life felt the 
normal appeal of any painting, or any sculpture, or any 
architecture, or any music." Poor, poor man! If he 
could only have basked in the efflorescence of J. J. C.'s 
youth, he might possibly have known something; but he 
died without the sight; "his books are full of blind places, 
like the notes that will not strike on a sick piano." No, 
the blind places are in the head of this young Daniel come 
to judgment, and bringing a string of cheap and startling 
epigrams along with him for a law-book. 

Mr. Stillman had the considerable advantage over Mr. 
Chapman of having known Emerson, and even gone out 
shooting deer with him, in that famous summer in the 
Adirondack woods which Stillman describes in his "Old 
Rome and the New," published in England last year. Its 
final chapter, "The Philosophers' Camp," is devoted to 
that adventure, which Emerson celebrated in a long poem, 
and for the illustration of which Stillman painted a pic- 
ture, now in the Concord library. In course of the chap- 
ter, Stillman says: 



159 



Emerson, as I read him, had no self-sufficiency. He 
lived and felt with the minimum of personal color, reflect- 
ing nature and man. He had no vanity, no self-importance; 
truth and philosophy were so supreme in their hold on him 
that neither his self nor any other self was worth so much 
as the solution of a problem in life. There was the least 
conceivable self-assertion in him; he was the best listener 
a genuine thinker ever had; and always seemed to prefer 
to listen rather than to talk, --to observe and study rather 
than to discourse. The calm, platonic serenity of Emer- 
son stands out from all our company as a crystalization of 
impersonal and universal humanity; no vexation, no mis- 
hap, could disturb his philosophy, or rob him of its lesson. 

This is well said; it might go deeper, but is true so far as 
it goes; while Mr. Chapman's snap-shots are often bril- 
liantly, even profoundly wrong, --though sometimes near 
enough to the truth to make one regret such talent wasted 
in self-sufficiency. 

This appears even more impudently in his essay on 
Whitman than in that on Emerson, for there was some- 
thing in the attitude of Emerson, as in that of Washington, 
which forbade impudence. But with Whitman before him, 
our chap feels no restraint. "Whitman was fortunately so 
very ignorant and untrained that his mind was utterly inco- 
herent and unintellectual." This is mere boyish "sass" and 
shallowness; the writer will not need to grow much older to 
be ashamed of it. What are we to say to a chappie who 
sums up his view of Whitman by saying, "He patiently lived 
upon cold pie and tramped the earth in triumph"? The end 
man at a minstrel show has a keener sense of humor than 
such stuff implies. Mr. Stillman is less veracious when 
mentioning Emerson's friend, Thoreau, of whom it is plain 
he had no knowledge. He had caught the itch of ill- speaking 
about him from Lowell, perhaps; hence he says: "Thoreau 
was a modern realist with a morose and uncompanionable 
genius always in attendance; his was a pinchbeck royalty, 
with a lunch basket from his father's farm hardly hidden 
behind his throne; he saw minutely, as all short-sighted 
people do." Thoreau was not short-sighted; his father had 
no farm; he was never morose, --and so on through the list 
of misconceptions about him. 

For the first time in many years a critic has undertaken 
to analyze the sermon-book of that first ancestor of Emer- 
son in New England, Rev. Peter Bulkeley, --his "Gospel 
Covenant," which he first preached in Concord, and then 
printed in London; after he and his brethren had banished 
Dryden's cousin, Anne Hutchinson, from Boston, and the 
faithful Indians had murdered her, to the great relief of 
the Massachusetts bigots. To them and to Bulkeley, who 
says so, she was 'that wretched Jezebel whom the devil 
sent over hither to poison these American churches ." Her 
glorious revelations, he adds, "she knows now were Sa- 
tanic delusions; let her damned heresies she fell into, and 
the just vengeance of God by which she perished, terrify 
all her seduced followers." He was a resolute Calvinist of 
the most literal kind, with a sound use of English, and a 
prodigious disregard for the uncovenanted children of God. 
His explanation of why the Jews, those enemies of the hu- 
man race, as Tacitus calls them, were God's chosen peo- 
ple, is interesting, --"not for anything which the Lord saw 
in them, more than in other people; but it pleased the Lord, 
it was his good pleasure to choose them, and to make them 



his people." In the waste of dogmatism and obsolete 
learning which these old sermons are, passages of force 
and beauty appear, which might help the aspiring youth of 
the present day to more modesty. Here is one; 

The things of the world can help but against some one 
thing; it is the prerogative of God alone to be an universal 
good. . . . We see men of different abilities; some simple, 
weak and despised, others indeed with eminent gifts and 
excellent parts; yet those that so excel many times fade 
and fall away, --their graces wither, their light is extinct, 
and they go out like the smoke of a candle with an ill sa- 
vor; whereas the weak and simple ones are upholden, and 
go from strength to strength, and increase with the in- 
creasings of God. The reason is because the one sort, 
viewing themselves in their own excellencies, --in the 
glass of their own conceit, --trust in themselves, and in 
their own strength, and do not commit their souls to God 
to be kept by him, and so are left to themselves. And 
then at length, meeting some temptation which is strong- 
er than they, their confidence and their strength fail them, 
and so they fall; and being left unto themselves, they are 
never able to rise any more. Whereas the others, being 
sensible of their own infirmity, and casting themselves on 
the power of God, are hereby preserved and upholden 
against all the powers of darkness; so that either they fall 
not, or if they do fall, yet they rise again. ... So great 
an affair as the life and salvation of our soul cannot be 
transacted in a tumult; therefore faith takes the soul aside 
and carries it into some solitary place; that there it may 
be alone with itself, and with God. This business and the 
multitude of other occasions cannot be done together. 

This reviewer of Peter Bulkeley is W. H. White, in the 
British Weekly, and he has evidently read the Concord 
sermons of the old Puritan cousin of Oliver St. John with 
much attention; he has also visited Odell in Bedfordshire, 
where Bulkeley and his father were rectors for 50 years, 
until Laud displaced the Puritan Peter, who would not deny 
his master, but slipped away to Massachusetts to found a 
church and a family here. Soon after came Thomas Em- 
erson from Durham (whose English baptismal record has 
lately been found), and from the union of Emerson and 
Bulkeley, modified by Waldo, Moody and other sources 
of descent, at last came Waldo Emerson, to furnish the 
critics a text for centuries . 



(124) 
WALT WHITMAN IN RETROSPECT 

The time for a full and impartial retrospect of Whit- 
man, the Immense, has not yet arrived; but it is well to 
take a turn now and then, and look back upon his mascu- 
line and picturesque figure, already looming larger in the 
mist of recent history than many persons who thought them- 
selves bigger at the time they were contemporaneous. Men 
of his stamp are hard to classify, for they disdain the cus- 
tomary limits of intellectual or moral life, and a standard 
in some points now needs to be framed for them. But it 
might be thought that the time had come for good critics 
and men of experience to give up the theory that Whitman 
was a small oddity, of rather a strutting and mean type, -- 



160 



a Bowery B'hoy with a turn for writing immeasurable poet- 
ry, --and too careful of himself to go to war as a soldier. 
It did not require much personal inspection of Walt to see 
that the short name, which has offended some of the pre- 
cise, belonged to him as naturally as Mr. Benjamin Jonson 
has gone into literature as "Rare Ben Jonson." There are 
persons to whom short names will not stick; they need all 
the nomina, cognomina and agnomina that can be mustered 
around their majestic personality. "Cornelius Scipio Ae- 
milianus Africanus Minor" was none too much for the con- 
queror of Carthage; but how would it look hung around the 
lank form of Abe Lincoln, --a man every way as great as 
any Scipio, but not calculated for extensive nomenclature? 
Would it increase our estimate of Homer to find out his 
family name? We systematize our conception of Dante a 
little better by adding "Alighieri" to his abbreviated name, 
but titles would be an impertinence in his case; while the 
insignificant "Mister" is held to be incumbent in speaking 
of Cephas Apollodorus Golfstick, who condescends to write 
quatrains for the monthlies. 

Prof. Triggs of the Chicago university has helped the 
lame and the lazy, the scrupulous and the hazy, to form a 
more correct opinion of Whitman as author, by "expiscat- 
ing," as Batty Tuke puts it, a goodly book of selections 
from the unsmelted and sometimes ill-smelling mass of 
Whitman's printed pages. He is only to be read in selec- 
tions, but what a mine for selection his verse and prose 
affords! In this he does not differ from most great writers; 
it is seldom that the endurance of the next century is able 
to peruse with more than indifference the "complete works" 
of Pope or Cowper, --of Goethe, or even Schiller. Great 
passages, great single works remain a joy forever; the 
rest we put aside for a more leisurely day. Who, outside 
of a theological school, can lay his hand on his heart and 
say that he has read the whole of famous Chrysostom or 
"blest Augustine"? I doubt if Emerson himself read all 
of "Taylor, the Shakespeare of divines"; we find even in 
him what Landor found in the sonnets of Shakespeare him- 
self, --"We acknowledge great power, but we experience 
great weariness." It is both exciting and fatiguing to read 
Whitman's verse or prose consecutively; his prose stands 
the test of fatigue better than his verse. This, I think, is 
because in his verse he forgets the secret of rhythm told 
by a lesser but more melodious poet, Dr. Holmes, --that 
it depends on our breathing apparatus, and must be accom- 
modated to persons of ordinary long breath, --neither to 
the asthmatic puffer, nor the breath-holding diver. Yet 
in passages Whitman is as smooth and harmonious as a 
song of Shakespeare or a Greek chorus . It may be an odd 
smoothness, a strange melody, --but it is there, as in this 
verse: 

Come, lovely and soothing Death! 

Undulate round the world, serenely arriving, 

arriving, 
In the day, in the night, to all, to each, 
Sooner or later, delicate Death. 

It is with Whitman's long-drawn verses somewhat as he 
says of himself and the ciphering, geometric astronomer: 

When I heard the learn 'd astronomer, 
When the proofs, the figures, were ranged in 
columns before me, 



How soon, unaccountable, I became tired and 

sick; 
Till rising and gliding out I wandered off by 

myself, 
In the mystical moist night-air, and from time 

to time, 
Looked up in perfect silence at the stars . 

Less suggestive, but in fact more profound, whether 
in thought or feeling, is oftentimes Whitman's prose. 
Thus in the erratic, and till now never reprinted preface 
to the first edition (1865) of "Leaves of Grass," he said: 
"Whatever would put God in a poem or system of philoso- 
phy as contending against some being or influence, is of 
no account. Sanity and ensemble characterize the great 
master; spoilt in one principle, all is spoilt. The great 
master has nothing to do with miracles . He sees health 
for himself in being one of the mass; he sees the hiatus 
in singular eminence. To be under the general law is 
great, for that is to correspond with it. To be is just as 
great as to perceive or tell." It was sayings of this sort, 
and not a few of them, in the first book, which drew from 
Emerson his clear and perceptive compliment; it is such 
things which mark Whitman's real greatness, and rank 
him in a school of thinkers and poets going back to the 
very beginnings of philosophy and poetry. He saw and 
said the same that Plato saw, and often said much better; 
he was of the same mind with Avienus and Manilius and 
the best of the Pythagoreans . The unity and essential di- 
vineness of the creation was as visible to him as to them; 
in particulars they were often whimsically wrong; so was 
he, but in the totality of his thought he was right, and will 
remain so. If Manilius said (Quisve hanc convexi molem 
sine fine patentis): 

This spheral mass of infinite extent, — 
Dance-leading signs, and heaven's far-flaming 

tent, -- 
This endless discord, --planet crossing star, — 
What little mind could see this from afar, 
Had Nature's ne'er endowed our human soul 
With keen eye to discern her shining whole? 
Our kindred mind she turns to seek her charms, 
And calls from heaven to rest within her arms; — 

then Manilius had that perception and love of unity which 
is so manifest in Whitman. The astrology of the Latin 
contemporary of Philo the Jew is as tiresome as the He- 
brew ritual of Philo; but they agree in a high conception 
of divine power and wisdom; and the Roman (a follower 
of Lucretius in his style, if not in his philosophy) has a 
force and elevation, together with a harshness and ob- 
scurity at times , that makes a comparison with Whitman 
not unfitting. As a fine example of Fame's forgetfulness, 
it may be said that Manilius was neither quoted nor named 
by any contemporary or successor for more than 1400 
years; and, though this is accounted for by a theory that 
he never published his book, "Astronomica," nor even 
completed it, the fact remains very singular, considering 
its merit and its subsequent discovery in our 15th century. 
From a famous passage on the power of knowledge that: 

Has snatched from Jove the flash and force of thunder, 
Giving to wind the sound, the flame to cloud, -- 



161 



wherein Manilius shows himself as heretical as Lucretius, 
but ignorant of electricity, --Turgot fabricated his compli- 
ment to Franklin: 

Eripuitque Jovi fulmen, ceptrumque tyrannis , 

In fact the stamp of greatness was marked on Whitman 
by partial Nature; he could not walk the street or sit in a 
public room without attracting the notice which is given to 
superior personalities. As in other things, he was a lit- 
tle too conscious of this, as Webster was; but the fact re- 
mained. His portraits recall something of this impression, 
but by no means the whole. There was a genial goodness 
about him that the engravings do not reproduce, but which 
made him that successful and useful consoler of the sick 
and wounded soldiers. It is clear he was nursing them in 
a fashion of his own. He was original, in spite of certain 
imitative foibles, and has added an appreciable something 
to our literature, though it is still too early to say precise- 
ly what, for much that he wrote may become as unknown as 
the verses of Manilius . He still lacks a competent biogra- 
pher and abbreviating editor, who shall set aside both the 
injudicious laudation of disciples, and the unfair, some- 
times envious, detraction of literary men who cannot under- 
stand why Whitman looks larger than they do. Perhaps Mr. 
Triggs may be such a biographer; his introductory essay in 
this book is a good beginning. Whitman's new Boston pub- 
lishers, Small, Maynard & Co., are doing him justice in 
their way, by good editions and a high regard for his repu- 
tation . 



(125) 
BROOK FARM- --CONCORD'S ARCADIA 

George Willis Cooke, one of the earlier biographers of 
Emerson, who has since published several thoughtful books, 
has just issued, through the Harpers, who were Curtis 's 
publishers after he left the unproductive Putnam's maga- 
zine, a charming volume, --"Early Life at Brook Farm and 
Concord." It is made up mostly of the letters of George 
William Curtis to his senior in age and music, John S. 
Dwight of Boston, but opens with a sketch of the lives of 
the two friends, and closes with a few of Curtis *s later 
letters, --the last in 1886. Briefly, though with much oth- 
er matter (letters from New York, Rome, etc.), it is an 
excerpt from the life at those two Arcadias of more than 
half a century ago, --Concord, and the temporary Elysium 
at West Roxbury, styled "Brook Farm," and more famous 
in literature and American history than any other farm 
known to mankind in New England. Nor does this fame 
decline as years pass, and the Arcadians themselves go 
into history or become dim shades on the horizon of the 
past. A certain something, denied to more picturesque 
scenery, and characters of much more political and mar- 
tial importance, invests the Brook-Farmers with those 
robes and haloes which are denied to Caleb Cushing, 
President Pierce, the Everetts, Butlers, and even the 
grand, gloomy and peculiar Webster. It was the rosy 
flush of enthusiasm, the illusions of youth, which, though 
soon dispelled or forgotten by the individual, -- 

Who farther from the East 

Must travel, yet be Nature's priest, -- 



attend as "a vision splendid" the whole course of the hu- 
man race. Hence the fables of Eden and the Golden Age; 
hence the imperishable attraction of Homer's poetry, over 
and above its unequaled merit as verse. Brook Farm fig- 
ures as a sort of Golden Age in Yankeeland, rising amid 
the sordid realities of Van Buren administrations and Har- 
rison campaigns, and hanging there in the clouds of morn- 
ing, a beatific vision too soon vanished, but never to be 
forgotten. How astonished would the Boston Dons have 
been in 1842-43, if they had been told that all their seri- 
ous struggles for and against Webster and the long-nosed 
Virginian Tyler, would pass into oblivion, while the fa- 
natics and frivolous persons out in Theodore Parker's 
parish, and the Transcendentalists of Concord, at whom 
they launched so many bolts of protest and derision, would 
in the next century be such interesting personages ! 

All which shows the importance of following Emerson's 
transportation scheme of hitching your wagon to a star; it 
is one of the few practicable modes of getting it conveyed 
into the next century. These automobiles of the French 
pattern go very well for a time, especially if the passen- 
gers blow their own trumpets loud and long-, but wait a 
generation and they are side-tracked, broken down, or 
superseded by bigger chariots of self-elation, blowing 
louder trumpets, and whizzing along at a swifter rate. 
Meanwhile, the star-led wizards, in their country tum- 
brils, are drawn onward and become as Elijahs, ascend- 
ing to heaven and casting down mantles to prophets of the 
next generation. Emerson was the most successful ex- 
ample of his own scheme; his chariot has had the star- 
pull for a long haul already, and there are no signs yet 
of its getting derailed or side-tracked. Which shows 
that the children of light are sometimes wiser, even in 
their own generation, than the children of this world. 

Emerson was himself the star in the East of the new 
dispensation, whereof Brook Farm and Transcendental 
Concord were temporary manifestations. So far as 
George Curtis is concerned, this is clear from the book 
in hand; for Mr. Cooke declares that he and his elder 
brother, Burrill (named for the maternal grandfather, a 
Rhode Island senator, which accounts for the connection 
of these letters with Providence), "came under the influ- 
ence of Emerson about 1835." This was before George 
was 12 years old; but he was precocious, and the Emer- 
sonian influence was in the air-- "one with the blowing 
clover and the falling rain, "--as he said of miracles. 
With Brook Farm Emerson sympathized without fully be- 
lieving in its success; his singular prudence held him 
back from such ventures, in which George Ripley and 
Hawthorne, and the late astute Charles A. Dana em- 
barked their little alls. Ripley and Dana subscribed each 
$1500 and Hawthorne $1000 in a pool of $12,000, which 
was the original venture . So these three gave a third of 
the outfit for the purchase of 200 acres of land near the 
Charles river, within the present limits of rural Boston. 
Hawthorne drew out upon his marriage the next year 
(1842), and may be supposed to have saved most of his 
thousand; but Ripley and Dana lost theirs, gaining valu- 
able experience with the sacrifice of their capital. The 
Curtises were never shareholders, but only pupils and 
boarders, --George studying, at the age of 18, "Greek, 
German, music and agriculture." He worked on the land 
from 7 a.m. to noon; "after dinner," as he wrote to his 
practical but indulgent father, 'these fair days permit 



162 



no homage but to their beauty, and I am fain to woo their 
smiles in the shades and sunlights of the woods." One 
would almost swear that was taken from a journal of Al- 
cott's, who just then was wooing the smiles of fruitlands 
in Harvard to the music of Charles Lane's English fiddle; 
but, in fact, this rhetoric was pervasive of the whole ideal 
fraternity, and with some soared to vaguer realms of meta- 
phor. 

Curtis was at Brook Farm less than two years, and 
seems to have been repelled by the Fourierite association 
formed in 1844, into which Dana and Dwight went, with Rip- 
ley. George Curtis, then only 20, had the good sense to 
write to Dwight from New York (March 3, 1844), "What we 
call union seems to me only a name for a phase of individ- 
ual action. As Fourier seems to me to have postponed his 
life in finding out how to live, so I often felt it was with Mr. 
Ripley." And he continued in this strain: 

I feel that our evils are entirely individual, not social, 
what is society but the shadow of the single man behind it? 
That there is a slave on my plantation or a servant in my 
kitchen is no evil; but that the slave and servant should be 
unwilling, that is the difficulty. The love which alone can 
make your phalanx beautiful, also renders it unnecessary. 
You may insure food and lodging to the starving beggar, -- 
I do not see that strength is afforded to the man. More- 
over, a stern divine justice ordains that each man stand 
where he stands, and do his utmost. Retreat, if you will, 
behind this prospect of comfortable living, --but you do so 
at a sacrifice of strength. The effect of a residence at the 
Farm, I imagine, was not greater willingness to serve in 
the kitchen, and so particularly assert that labor was di- 
vine; but discontent that there was such a place as a kitch- 
en. And, however aimless life there seemed to be, it was 
an aimlessness of the general, not of the individual life. 
In the midst of busy trades and bustling commerce, it was 
a congregation of calm scholars and poets, cherishing the 
Ideal and the True in each other's hearts. That impossi- 
bility of severance from the world, of which you speak, I 
liked; though I did not like that there should be such a pro- 
test against the world by those who were somewhat subject 
to it. 

The next move of this wise youth was to go to Ponkatasset 
hill in Concord where Emerson had sought out a place of 
rustic labor for the two brothers on the farm of Capt. Bar- 
rett, --one of the three hill-farms then in the possession 
of the Concord Barretts , who now own none of them . It 
was a great farm of the old fashion, --orchard and meadow, 
grass-land, plow-land and wood-land, with pastures inter- 
spersed that were sometimes plowed and cropped and some- 
times allowed to grow up to wood; the last being an easy 
transition where the white pines and the squirrel-planted 
oaks and chestnuts come in so naturally when the land is 
left to itself. It looked off toward Naushawtuc in the south, 
where Maj. Barrett, sometimes state treasurer, was sow- 
ing and reaping; and toward Anursnac in the southwest, 
where George Barrett was mowing the meadows that bear 
the painted cup, the buckbean, and in autumn the fringed 
gentian. Beside the Ponkatasset farmhouse stood Ellery 
Channing's 

Small cottage on the lonely hill, 
Where like a hermit he must bide his time; 



and where Thoreau thus described this wayward poet in 
the "Week,"-- 

A poet wise has settled, whose fine ray 

Doth often shine on Concord's twilight day. 

Like those first stars, whose silver beams on high, 

Most travelers cannot at first descry, 

But eyes that wont to range the evening sky; 

For lore that's deep must deeply studied be, 

As from deep wells men read star-poetry. 

Further down the hill toward the village, Minot Pratt, 
from Brook Farm, took up his abode in April, 1845, re- 
moving sadly from the Fourierized Arcadia in West Rox- 
bury to a more permanent one in Concord; and with him 
Curtis lived for a time, in 1846, just before setting out 
for his European tour . In the interval, when not in New 
York or Providence, the two Curtises, after finishing 
their year with Capt. Barrett, lived in a cottage of Ed- 
mund Hosmer's, on the Cambridge turnpike, where ear- 
lier Alcott had taken refuge from the failure of Fruitlands, 
and before buying the "Wayside" property, which Haw- 
thorne afterward owned. Thus the Transcendentalist 
shepherds associated one with another, in their obscure, 
idyllic days, before so many myths sprang up about them, 
and before the silver cord was loosed and the golden bowl 
broken. In 1845 Hawthorne was still in the Old Manse, 
and was rowing up the Assabet and down the Musketaquid 
in Thoreau's Merrimac boat, --Thoreau himself having 
gone to edit his "Week" by the shore of Walden. Curtis 
continued to cultivate music and agriculture at Concord, 
where he sung and played, and listened to the singing of 
Belinda Randall, from the retirement of Stow Common, 
or the Winter Street house of her father in Boston, com- 
ing to visit at the houses of her Concord friends. He was 
handsome and accomplished; an elegant democrat, as Ger- 
rit Smith was a baronial one; amusing himself while train- 
ing his mind in these open-air universities, which he 
chose instead of the endowed factories of the Muses at 
Cambridge and Providence, to which his family would 
fain have sent him . His choice of an education was the 
best for him; but it was in vain to make a recluse of him: 
as Burke said of his son, he was "a public creature," and 
found his true mission in the great world, of which he was 
both the reproof and the sincere ornament. 

Mr. Cooke has done his editorial work well; yet with 
several errors which a little more care in proof-reading 
would have prevented. Samuel Hoar was known